USAWA History – 1996 Nationals

by Al Myers

(The following meet report covering the 1996 USAWA National Championships  was written by Bill Clark in the August 1996 issue of the Strength Journal, Vol. VII No.5)


The crowd was the smallest in the history of the USAWA’s national championships which originated in 1988, but the lifting was excellent, the food great, the fun unmarred by the competition, and the weekend a tribute to the Ciavattone Family in general and the memory of Frank Ciavattone Sr., in particular.

A field of 23 lifters were on hand for the Ninth Annual USAWA Championships which were held in the Holiday Inn in Mansfield, Mass., a fine facility which seemed to perfectly fit the needs of the small crowd.

Five members of the Ciavattone Family lifted in the competition and, when the meet was done, three-year-old Joseph Ciavattone did an exhibition Ciavattone lift with 10 kilos which must have set a USAWA record for most lifters in one extended family in a single meet, beating out the many Montinis of Aliquippa, Pa.

Cleveland’s Bob Hirsh was an easy winner of the best lifter award for Americans, but waged a huge battle with England’s Steve Angell for the bragging rights, regardless of nationality.  Bob finished with 1162.5 points on the Lynch Formula.  Steve wound up with 1172.5 points.  Hirsh received one per cent age correction — 11.6 points – which gave him an edge of 1.6 points on teh age-corrected total… a tremendous battle between two great lifters.  Bob is only 41; Steve is 26.

Cara Ciavattone took the women’s overall title.  She shared gals’ honors with Noi Phumchaona the masters’ leader, and Holly Ciavattone, her niece, who won teenage honors.

Joe Ciavattone was the best open lifter (Angell was not eligible for USAWA awards) and his nephew, Jeff, was the best teenager.  Only one Ciavattone failed to win age group honors.  As is normally the case, the meet director has many thing to distract his concentration on lifting and this meet was no exception.  Frank Jr., failed to break a couple of records he had hoped to exceed, but had to be happy with the way the weekend progressed.  He took home the best meet director award…. and well-deserved.

The Ciavattone neck proved to be super strong – this time it belonged to younger brother Joe.  Frank had taken the neck record up to 322.5 kg (711 pounds) at the 1992 Nationals in his hometown of Walpole, Mass., and it still stands as the heavyweight record.  It was also a Ciavattone Family record. No longer!!!!!

Joe, only 27 and lifting in the 105 KG class at a bodyweight of only 223, made a 287.5 KG opener, jumped to 325 for a family record ad the best-ever neck lift.  He missed it the first time, but got a better lean and a more balanced drive to make the 325 – 716 1/2 pounds …. the best of all-time.

The Ciavattone Family neck battle is now under way.


The Sunday evening banquet, which left most everyone full of bar-b-q, was highlighted by the presentation of the Frank D. Ciavattone Sr. Courage Awards for both 1995 and 1996.  Frank Sr. was a long-time supporter of all varieties of lifting, who, in his final years, was a staunch supporter of the USAWA.   He served the USAWA as an official despite being battered by diabetes and cancer and the strength with which he fought his conditions is very much evident in this family.  In memory of her husband, Josephine Ciavattone presented the 1995 Courage Award to Howard Prechtel, the USAWA President who still sets records at 71 despite recurring problems stemming from World War II wounds.  The 1996 Courage Award went to Bill Clark, who has overcame three joint replacements to win two USAWA titles and set nearly 100 age group records at age 64.


1996 USAWA National Championships
June 22-23, 1996
Mansfield, Massachusetts

Meet Director: Frank Ciavattone
Loaders: Mark Bridges, Ramon Lopez, Jim Collins

Lifts: Clean and Press Heels Together, Continental to Chest, Pullover and Press, Zercher Lift, Deadlift with Ciavattone Grip, One-Arm Clean and Jerk, One-Arm Deadlift, Neck Lift

Men: Top Ten Placings
1. Bob Hirsh, Ohio
2. Chris Waterman, Ohio
3. Barry Pensyl, Pennsylvania
4. Art Montini, Pennsylvania
5. Jim Malloy, Ohio
6. Joe Ciavattone, Massachusetts
7. Denny Habecker, Pennsylvania
8. Pete Zaremba, Ohio
9. Howard Prechtel, Ohio
10. Dale Friesz, Virginia

Women: Top Three Placings
1. Cara Ciavattone, Massachusetts
2. Noi Phumchaona, Ohio
3. Holly Ciavattone, Massachusetts

Best Lifter Awards:
Women Junior – Holly Ciavattone
Women Open – Cara Ciavattone
Women Master – Noi Phumchaona
Men Junior – Jeff Ciavattone
Men Open – Bob Hirsh
Men Master – Bob Hirsh
Men 40-44 Age Group – Bob Hirsh
Men 45-49 Age Group – Barry Pensyl
Men 50-54 Age Group – Jim Malloy
Men 55-59 Age Group – Dale Friesz
Men 60-64 Age Group – Dennis Mitchell
Men 65-69 Age Group – Art Montini
Men 70-74 Age Group – Howard Prechtel
Frank Ciavattone Sr. Award – Bill Clark

Things to do in Vegas

by Chad Ullom

Saturday nights banquet will be held at Tony and Tinas Wedding. I've done it before and its a good time!

For our Saturday night entertainment, we will attend an interactive dinner theater called Tony and Tina’s Wedding. I’ve actually been to Tony and Tina’s Wedding twice before and it is a lot of fun! You are a guest at an Italian Wedding and of course things go wrong all night. From the ex boyfriend that shows up invited, the pregnant bridesmaid, the drinking priest, the show can be different every time depending on who you sit next to! It’s much more fun if you interact, so come prepared to have a great time!

On Sunday, we are planning a bus tour to visit Hoover Dam. I have done the tour before as well and I highly recommend it! You can take a bus from Vegas, and they pick you up from many areas in Vegas. There is a lot of great information on the long bus ride about the dam and Vegas in general. This tour will take most of the day on Sunday. 

At our meeting Friday night before the meet, we will take the orders for the tickets to both of these events.  At this time of the year, we should not have any problems getting in last minute to either of these activities.  We are going to wait on the tickets so we can get all of our seats together at the banquet and on the same Hoover Dam Tour.  I will personally take charge of this project of getting our tickets so don’t worry about being left out or not getting tickets. Just let me know Friday night before the meet if you want to go to either of these activities.  I’ll take the orders and then hit the strip to buy them somewhere cheaper than we could get them in advance.  

The meeting will be held at the host hotel somewhere, at the Silverton.  Al will let you know at some time where this meeting will be held at.  He hasn’t even told me yet. If you have not made your reservation at the Silverton yet, don’t forget to get it done.  Link –

Also, I am renting a big van to haul everyone around.  Just think of me as your private taxi service.  If you need picked up at the airport, just drop me an email what time you are getting in to Vegas on Friday and I’ll be there to pick you up.  I’ll also be shuttling people to the meet on Saturday as well.

USAWA History – 1995 Nationals

by Al Myers

(The following meet report was written by Bill Clark in the June 1995 issue of the Strength Journal, Vol.VI No. 5)

Kerry Clark, Art Montini …..USAWA’s Best

There were records galore and outstanding performances abounded at the USAWA National Championships on June 3-4 in Columbia, Mo.. but Kerry Clark came thru with the most outstanding performance of them all.  A small but talented field put an amazing total of 164 records in the book during the two-day, nine-event affair put on by Clark’s Gym…but the 555-pound neck lift by Kerry Clark had to be the outstanding lift of the weekend.

Kerry, a 31-year-old research analyst in the University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture, beat her own neck lift mark by 152 1/2 pounds and was 55 pounds better than any male lifter in the meet, regardless of age or size. In addition, Kerry moved atop the all-time women’s list in the hip lift with 1300 pounds and put a total of nine records in the book in the open 80 KG class.  She joined with teammate Dale Spry to do a 500-pound two-person deadlift – the first male-female lift to go on the USAWA record list.

The hand-and-thigh record was shattered by co-meet director Joe Garcia with a 1600-pound effort which jumped off the floor.  The mark is the best ever, regardless of bodyweight in the USAWA and stands seventh on the list of past efforts in Dave Willoughby’s “Strength Athletes”. Only one of those six lifts occurred in the past 85 years and none, in all probability, were done under the more strict rules which govern the USAWA…which puts Joe up there with the legends of our sport such as Louis Cyr, et al.

Kerry won the women’s “Best of the Best” title and the men’s “Best of the Best” went to 67-year-old Art Montini on an age-adjusted basis.  Montini set age group records in all nine lifts and added a left-hand deadlift mark of 275 pounds on record day.  Art edged out 40-year-old Bob Hirsh and 37-year-old John Carter fro the “Best” title.  Carter made an easy 2300-pound hip lift for openers, then jumped to 2600 on his second attempt. He failed twice.  Had he taken the 2525 needed to break his old mark, he would have added the “Best” title…but John wanted that 2600 more than an award.  “Next time!” he said.

The 25-lifter field was the smallest since the first year of the USAWA Championships, but had four first-timers in the field – two from Clark’s Gym. Thanks to a number of those who made cash contributions to the meet treasury, the meet broke even financially. Clark’s Gym sends the deepest appreciation to those who kept Garcia and Bill Clark from digging deep. 


1995 USAWA National Championships
June 3-4, 1995
Columbia, Missouri

Meet Director: Bill Clark and Joe Garcia

Lifts: Continental to Chest and Jerk, Deadlift Heels Together, Pullover and Push, Zercher Lift, Neck Lift, Clean and Press Heels Together, Bench Press Feet in Air, One-Hand Deadlift, Hip Lift

Men: Top Ten Placings
1. Art Montini, Pennsylvania
2. Bob Hirsh, Ohio
3. John Carter, Missouri
4. Dale Friesz, Virginia
5. Jim Malloy, Ohio
6. Denny Habecker, Pennsylvania
7. Howard Prechtel, Ohio
8. Joe Garcia, Missouri
9. Chris Waterman, Ohio
10. Randy Joe Holden, Kansas

Women: Top Two Placings
1. Kerry Clark, Missouri
2. Noi Phumchaona, Ohio

Best Lifter Awards:
Women Open – Kerry Clark
Women Master – Noi Phumchaona
Men Open – Bob Hirsh
Men Master – Art Montini
Men Junior – Adam Geib

Ledaig Record Breaker

by Dave Glasgow



14/15 JULY-2011









USAWA History – 1994 Nationals

by Al Myers

(The following meet report covering the 1994 USAWA National Championships was written by Bill Clark in the June 1994 issue of the Strength Journal, Vol. V No.3)

Noi and Malloy: Robbie, Jackie, and Hirsh — the Best!!!

CLEVELAND, OH JUNE 4-5th: The record book took a beating as 37 lifters from eight states enjoyed a two-day, fun-filled session of lifting and meetings under the direction of USAWA president Howard Prechtel at the seventh annual National All-Round Weightlifting Association Championship.

The women’s field was led by Jacqueline Simonsen, the open best lifter, and Noi Phumchaona, the top master.  The best junior was Robbie McKean. Jim Malloy edged out Art Montini in a tight race for the masters’ best lifter and 39-year-old Bob Hirsh was untouchable in the open division.  The actual number of records set won’t be known till Joe Garcia’s computer gets to work on a list which is fast approaching 2000 entries.  No less than 13 marks fell on fourth attempts alone and another three were added when lifters did one-hand lifts with both hands for record without leaving the bar. Another of other marks were near-misses such as Frank Ciavattone’s 1600 lb. hand and thigh.

A 24-year-old in his first-ever USAWA championship almost stole the show, Goeff Gazda, a 131-pounder who trains with Chris Waterman, was built more like a distance runner than a strength athlete, but set half a dozen records, including four on fourth attempts.   He is surely a lifter with a future, considering his slight build.

The meet was held at the Clarion Hotel in suburban Eastlake with excellent accommodations.  The hotel will be the site of the Gold Cup in November, once again to be under its founder, Howard Prechtel.  There’s a good chance the 1995 IAWA Championships will be at the same site.  Our hat’s off to Howard, who directed, fielded questions and solved problems, ran the USAWA board meeting, and still did a number of record lifts – at the young age of 69.


1994 USAWA National Championships
June 4-5, 1994
East Lake, Ohio

Meet Director: Howard Prechtel
Emcee: Bill Clark
Scorekeeper: Marilyn McKean

Lifts: Clean and Push Press, Jefferson Lift, One-Hand Hack Lift, Cheat Curl, One-Hand Snatch, Zercher Lift, Hand and Thigh

Men: Top Ten Placings
1. Bob Hirsh, Ohio
2. Bill DiCioccio Jr, Pennsylvania
3. Jim Malloy, Ohio
4. Bill DiCioccio Sr, Pennsylvania
5. Goeff Gazda, Ohio
6. Art Montini, Pennsylvania
7. Chris Waterman, Ohio
8. Howard Prechtel, Ohio
9. Mike Locondro, Pennsylvania
10. John McKean, Pennsylvania

Women: Top Three Placings
1. Jacqueline Simonsen, Vermont
2. Noi Phumchaona, Ohio
3. Deanna Springs, Missouri

Best Lifter Awards:
Women Open – Jacqueline Simonsen
Women Master – Noi Phumchaona
Men Open – Bob Hirsh
Men Master – Jim Malloy
Men Junior – Robbie McKean

USAWA History – 1993 Nationals

by Al Myers

(The following meet report was written by Bill Clark in the Strength Journal Vol.IV No.3. )


The USAWA Nationals turned out to be a two-family affair on the male side while Jacqueline Caron dominated the women’s division.  The meet, held in Middletown, PA., under the co-direction of Paul Montini and Paul Healey, drew an entry of 36 lifters from 11-year-old Rocco Montini to 73-year-old Paul Eberhardinger and saw the usual number of records go into the book.

Jacqueline Caron took the women’s division with 1486.33 Lynch Points, beating out Noi Phumchaona and Kerry Clark, who did some outstanding lifting of their own.

The top male award went to Bill DiCiccio, Jr., who scored 1802.92 Lynch Points, beating out his dad, Bill Sr., who was third with 1724.32 points.  Bob Hirsh of Cleveland was runnerup with 1799.6 points, losing his chance to take the best lifter award when his right knee crumpled under a 1580 hip lift. The injury seemed to be minimal.  DiCiccio, Sr., wound up second to Art Montini in the Battle for top master lifter. Art had 2078.12 points on the age-amended list – which, if a trophy overall for the age-amended list were given, would have gone to him.

The top junior lifter was Rocco Montini, who scored 1484.92 points as an 11-year-old in the 35 KG class.  Rocco – Rocky – is Art’s grandson and the son of Paul Montini, the co-meet director.

In the master’s division, Noi Phumchaona (45-49) made her last start in that age group a winner. She was the only master gal on hand.  In the men’s 40-44, Paul Montini was the best – making it three Montini’s. At 45-49, Barry Pensyl was the winner, 50-54 winner was Bill DiCiccio, Sr., 55-59 belonged to John Vernacchio, 60-64 went to Dennis Mitchell, 65-69 was Art Montini, 70-74 was Paul Eberhardinger.  And, just to keep things in perspective, on the age-amended formula, Bill DiCiccio Sr., was 146 points better than Junior.

Thanks to the two Pauls – Montini and Healey – for quick and accurate results and for setting examples by showing excellent lifting form and strength, as well. 


1993 USAWA National Championships
May 22-23, 1993
Middletown, Pennsylvania

Meet Directors: Paul Montini and Paul Healey

Lifts: Clean and Push Press, Jefferson Lift, Steinborn, Zercher Lift, Hand and Thigh, Hip Lift

Men: Top Ten Placings
1. Art Montini, Pennsylvania
2. Bill DiCioccio Sr., Pennsylvania
3. Jim Malloy, Ohio
4. Bill DiCioccio Jr, Pennsylvania
5. Bob Hirsh, Ohio
6. Barry Pensyl, Pennsylvania
7. Chris Waterman, Ohio
8. John Kurtz, Ohio
9. John McKean, Pennsylvania
10. John Monk, Pennsylvania

Women: Top Three Placings
1. Jacqueline Caron, Vermont
2. Noi Phumchaona, Ohio
3. Kerry Clark, Missouri

Best Lifter Awards:
Women Open – Jacqueline Caron
Men Open – Bill DiCioccio Jr.
Women Master – Noi Phumchaona
Men Master – Art Montini
Men Junior – Rocco Montini
Men 40-44 Age Group – Paul Montini
Men 45-49 Age Group – Barry Pensyl
Men 50-54 Age Group – Bill DiCioccio Sr.
Men 55-59 Age Group – John Vernacchio
Men 60-64 Age Group – Dennis Mitchell
Men 65-69 Age Group – Art Montini
Men 70-74 Age Group – Paul Eberhardinger

How good was Ed Zercher?

by Roger LaPointe

Frank Ciavattone performing a Zercher Lift at the 2000 USAWA National Championships. The entire video of this meet is available for sale from Atomic Athletic.

Comparing old records to modern records can be tough. In the case of Ed Zercher, we can compare contemporary results in the Olympic lifts.

The Olympic weightlifting contests were very different in the early 1930s. The biggest difference being in the number of lifts contested in a single day. Today, there is just the Two Hand Snatch and Two Hand Clean & Jerk, but way back then it was a weightlifting pentathlon, including the single hand version of those lifts and the military press. Of course, the equipment was less sophisticated and the rules slightly different.

At the Fifth Annual Western AAU Weight Lifting Championships Ed Zercher (Bodyweight 156 Pounds), had the following lifts:

One Hand Snatch 120 lbs.
One Hand Clean & Jerk 130 lbs.
Two Hand Military Press 170 lbs.
Two Hand Snatch 145 lbs.
Two Hand Clean & Jerk 200 lbs.
Total 765 lbs.

Ed was also a Loader and Official in the meet.

As a comparison, John Terlazzo (Olympic Gold Medalist Tony Terlazzo’s brother) won the 148 pound class at the 1935 AAU Junior Nationals, as well as John Terpak and Walter Good, as reported in the same issue of The Arena & Strength.

Terlazzo (148#) Terpak (148#) Good (165#)
One Hand Snatch 143# 126.5# 159.5#
One Hand C & J 159.5# 143# 176#
Two Hand Military Press 181.5# 176# 203.5#
Two Hand Snatch 187# 187# 192.5#
Two Hand C & J 242# ——- 275#
Total 913# 632.5# 1006.5#

(I believe Terlazzo’s OHS was his National Record, but it is not mentioned as such in the accompanying article.) Terpak went on to win a Gold Medal in the 1936 Olympics and Good took 14th in the 1936 Olympics.  As you can see, when it came to the five lift Olympic contests, Ed was not quite up to Olympic caliber, but he was not far off.

Thom Van Vleck has reported on the USAWA web site ( that “The oldest record listed that has a verified date (Old record list from Bill Clark) is a Harness Lift done by Ed Zercher, Sr with 2150lbs in 1940.” He also reports, “Clark stated that the below records were Missouri Valley AAU marks prior to 1941. So, while we don’t know the exact year these were set, they were set prior to or in 1941. “

Aug. 3-4, 1963 Iron Man Lifting News reported on the 3rd Annual Heart of America Festival, which contested 15 different events, of which Ed (age 56) competed in the following:

Roman Chair 610 lbs., Leg Press-Unsupported 10 Reps 600 lbs.

The Zercher Lift was also a lift at this meet, but Ed did not compete in it. However, he did officiate.  Ed continued to be a judge for Olympic weightlifting contests in the 1960s, Iron Man Lifting News has him listed as an official for the Dec 7, 1964 Missouri State Weightlifting Championships, Missouri State AAU Olympic Weightlifting Championships at the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City, December 10, 1967. He was also an official for the March 30-31, 1968 Missouri State Penitentiary Weight Decathlon, during which they contested 10 lifts, including the “ Zercher Lift”. The Emcee was Bill Clark.  Ed did not lift in either contest.

Zercher would likely have been considered a “Presser”, but his One Hand Snatch was quite good as well. If powerlifting had been an organized sport in the 1930’s, I suspect that with his pressing ability transferring to the bench press, his record in the deadlift and obvious ability with leg pressing and other squat-type movements, he would have really done well, if not taking some national or world titles.

USAWA History – 1992 Nationals

by Al Myers


1992 USAWA National Championships
May 30-31, 1992
Walpole, Massachusetts

Meet Directors: Bob Moore and Roger Lynch
Emcees: Joe Caron and Bob Moore
Head Officials: Bill Clark, Armand Turgeon, Joe Garcia, John Vernacchio

Lifts: Continental Snatch, Pullover and Push, Steinborn, Hand and Thigh, Neck Lift, Jefferson Lift, One-Hand Deadlift, Zercher Lift, Hip Lift

Men: Top Ten Placings
1. Art Montini, Pennsylvania
2. Bill DiCioccio Sr., Pennsylvania
3. Jim Malloy, Ohio
4. Roger Lynch, Massachusetts
5. John McKean, Pennsylvania
6. Frank Ciavattone, Massachusetts
7. Bill DiCioccio Jr., Pennsylvania
8. Dale Friesz, Virginia
9. Bob Moore, Massachusetts
10. Joe Garcia, Missouri

Women: Top Two Placings
1. Jacqueline Caron, Vermont
2. Noi Phumchaona, Ohio

Best Lifter Awards:
Women 20-39 Age Group – Jacqueline Caron
Women Master – Noi Phumchaona
Men Junior 13 and Under – Rocky Montini
Men Junior 14-15 Age Group – Bradley Ward
Men Junior 16-17 Age Group – Daniel Drake
Men Junior Overall – Rocky Montini
Men 20-39 Age Group – Roger Lynch
Men 40-44 Age Group – Paul Montini
Men 45-49 Age Group – John McKean
Men 50-54 Age Group – Bill DiCioccio Sr.
Men 55-59 Age Group – John Vernacchio
Men 60-64 Age Group – Art Montini
Men 65-69 Age Group – Rex Monahan
Men Master Overall – Art Montini
Men Open Overall – Roger Lynch

USAWA History – 1991 Nationals

by Al Myers

This was the Ambridge Barbell Clubs first promotion of the USAWA National Championships. Art Montini and John McKean were the meet directors.  This meet at Ambridge drew 34 lifters, which is one of the best turnouts in the history of the USAWA National Championships.  Ambridge BBC ran away with the team title, as well as Art Montini taking the overall best lifter award. Steve Schmidt was the top Open lifter with a point total of 2270.1 points.  At 63 years of age, Art ended up with a total age/bodyweight adjusted points of 2500.0.  Frank Ciavattone had the best total of the day with 6105 pounds.  This appeared to me to be a very difficult meet over the course of two day with 3 chains involved – Neck, Hand and Thigh, and the Hip.  Add on other “tough lifts” like the Hack Lift, Steinborn, and the Zercher Lift, and this National Meet could have been the HARDEST National Meet ever!!

Several elite USAWA members made their National Meet debut here – Joe Ciavattone, Bob Geib, John Monk, Rex Monahan, and John Kurtz.


1991 USAWA National Championships
July 13-14, 1991
Ambridge, Pennsylvania

Meet Director: Art Montini and John McKean

Lifts: One-Hand Clean and Jerk, Hack Lift, Pullover and Push, Steinborn, Hand and Thigh, Continental Snatch, One-Hand Deadlift, Zercher Lift, Neck Lift, Hip Lift

Men: Top Ten Placings
1. Art Montini, Pennsylvania
2. Bill DiCioccio Sr., Pennsylvania
3. Steve Schmidt, Missouri
4. Barry Bryan, Pennsylvania
5. Roger Lynch, Massachusetts
6. John McKean, Pennsylvania
7. Jim Malloy, Ohio
8. Joe Garcia, Missouri
9. John Monk, Pennsylvania
10. Frank Ciavattone, Massachusetts

Women: Top Three Placings
1. Jeanne Burchett, Pennsylvania
2. Noi Phumchaona, Ohio
3. Suree Hughes, Ohio

Best Lifter Awards:
Women Masters – Jeanne Burchett
Women Open – Jeanne Burchett
Men Junior – Robbie McKean
Men 20-39 Age Group – Steve Schmidt
Men 40-44 Age Group – Paul Montini
Men 45-49 Age Group – John McKean
Men 50-54 Age Group – Bill DiCioccio Sr.
Men 55-59 Age Group – Dennis Mitchell
Men 60-64 Age Group – Art Montini
Men 65-69 Age Group – Howard Prechtel
Men Master – Art Montini
Men Open – Steve Schmidt

World Record Clean and Press

by Roger LaPointe

This is the series of pictures showing Dave Polzin's WR Clean and Press of 90 KG.

You want world records? We’ve got’em.

This year’s Atomic Athletic Great Black Swamp Olde Time Strongman Picnic hosted the USAWA Heavy Lifts Championships, where 8 World Records were broken.

Two of the World Records were done as extra lifts. One of the beauties of the US All-Round Weightlifting Association is having the opportunity to add in extra lifts that are not on the regular agenda. One such lift was the classic Clean & Press.

Dave Polzin was the lifter. He trains with the Atomic Athletic Club at the new Atomic Athletic Training Center. Dave’s first meet in the All Rounds took place at last year’s Atomic Athletic Great Black Swamp Olde Time Strongman Picnic, but this was far from the beginning of his lifting career. In fact, Dave’s first weightlifting competition was in Olympic Weightlifting, when the Clean & Press was still part of the Olympics. Dave was quite a presser, pushing up over 300 pounds. Unfortunately, right after that meet, the Press was eliminated from Olympic competition. However, as a football player for Defiance College, Dave continued to do the press in his training.

Dave achieved some real success in Olympic style weightlifting, reaching national level in the late 70s and early 80s. He usually lifted in the 110 kg weight class, placing as high as second at the US Nationals. His by clean was 202.5 kg (446.5 lbs.). Dave quit competition by the mid-1980s, with many of his friends trying to get him to lift as a Masters age athlete.

It took the “odd lifts” of the USAWA to get him back into competition mode again. Last year’s Strongman Picnic included the One Hand Barbell Deadlift and the Clean & Push Press, where he set records in both lifts. Now Dave Polzin has caught the bug for all round weightlifting.

This past weekend, the Heavy Lifts Championships were not enough for Dave. He also wanted to break the Clean & Press record, which he did in fine style. He practiced the Hand & Thigh Lift with us at the Atomic Athletic Club, but we didn’t have harnesses for the Neck Lift or the Hip Lift, so Dave learned from the other lifters that day. When he finished he went 2 for 3 in the Clean & Press, breaking the record twice, where the new record now stands at 90 Kg (198 lbs.) for the 100 kg wt. Class and 60+ age group. Dave is already pushing for the next meet here at Atomic Athletic.

Live strong, Roger LaPointe

USAWA History – 1990 Nationals

by Al Myers

(WEBMASTERS NOTE:  The following meet report was written by Bill Clark in the Strength Journal, Vol. 1 No. 5.  Our current USAWA President Denny Habecker made his USAWA National debut in this meet, as well as other famous USAWA members like Dale Friesz, Jim Malloy, Barry Bryan, Barry Pennsyl, and Chris Waterman.  )

USAWA Nationals A Record-Breaker!

More than 225 records were set or matched in a great two-day session of the USAWA National Championships at the Downtown YMCA in Akron, Ohio, on July 15-16.

To pinpoint one top lifter at the expense of the others would be unfair…so many did so many record attempts.

Barry Bryan was the top male lifter, winning the 85 KG class easily.  The 32-year-old Pennsylvanian set records in eight of the 10 events during the two long days and saw his total of 1714.32 kilos topped only by a pair of much heavier lifters.  His 1603.06 points was 150 points better than anyone else.

The women’s title went to 52-year-old Jeanne Burchett of Baden, Pa., with an 18-record effort in the 60 KG class.  She topped her outstanding two-day session with a great hand and thigh lift of 552 1/2 pounds.

Art Montini continued to dominate the masters. The 62-year-old from Aliquippa, Pa., continues to make tremendous gains.  His 1588 points placed him well ahead of his team mate, John McKean, from the Ambridge, Pa., VFW  WL Club.  Bill DiCiccio of Ambridge was third among the masters. 

Robbie McKean, John’s 11-year-old son, was the outstanding junior.  He set nine age group records in the 10-13 age group and tied a 10th.

Cleveland’s Olympic Health Club (John Schubert, Howard Prechtel, etc) took the team title in spirited battle with Ambridge and John Vernacchio’s Valley Forge WLC.  Missing from the action were the clubs from the Midwest and defending Champ, Steve Schmidt.

Attilio Alacchi did a tremendous job – with big assists from the Cleveland crew – in putting on the third annual USAWA get-together.  And, as always, the guy who does the work never gets to lift and enjoy the meet as he has done the past two years. Thanks to you, Attilio, for all you did for the USAWA.


1990 USAWA National Championships
July 15-16, 1990
Akron, Ohio

Meet Director: Attilio Alacchi

Lifts: Clean and Press – Heels Together, Front Squat, Continental to Chest, Pullover and Push, Neck Lift, One-Hand Snatch, Bench Press Feet in Air, One-Arm Deadlift, Hand and Thigh, Zercher Lift

Men: Top Ten Placings
1. Barry Bryan, Pennsylvania
2. Art Montini, Pennsylvania
3. Frank Ciavattone, Massachusetts
4. Jim Bufalini, Pennsylvani
5. Don Verterosa, Massachusetts
6. John Vernacchio, Pennsylvania
7. John McKean, Pennsylvania
8. Chris Waterman, Ohio
9. Jim Malloy, Ohio
10. Bill DiCioccio Sr., Pennsylvania

Women: Top Three Placings
1. Jeanne Burchett, Pennsylvania
2. Noi Phumchaona, Ohio
3. Suree Hughes, Ohio

Best Lifter Awards:
Women Master Overall – Jeanne Burchett
Women Open Overall – Jeanne Burchett
Men Junior – Robbie McKean
Men 20-39 Age Group – Barry Bryan
Men 40-44 Age Group – John McKean
Men 45-49 Age Group – Jim Malloy
Men 50-54 Age Group – John Vernacchio
Men 55-59 Age Group – Gonzalo Gonzales
Men 60-64 Age Group – Art Montini
Men 65-69 Age Group – Howard Prechtel
Men Master Overall – Art Montini
Men Open Overall – Barry Bryan

Awesome Strongman Picnic

by Roger LaPointe

Jeff "Chain Breaker" Bankens performed various strongman feats through out the day of the Atomic Athletic Great Black Swamp Olde Time Strongman Picnic. Here he is tearing license plates one after another!!!

Performing strongmen, barbeque, broken records and good friends, what more can you ask from a Saturday afternoon? We had it all.  Summing up one of the Atomic Athletic Great Black Swamp Olde Time Strongman Picnics is nearly impossible, but just like the event, I will try to pull it off.

The USAWA Heavy Lifts Championships were going on throughout the day, with records being broken left and right. In case you don’t know the lift order, it went like this: Neck Lift, Hand & Thigh Lift and the Hip Lift finished it off. However, sandwiched in there were a couple of invitational record breaker lifts: the One Hand Barbell Snatch and the 2 Hand Clean & Press, just for a little variety.

We also had some informal Open Competitions. We started off with a little kids Farmers Walk, where they used a pair of 10 Pound Kettlebells. You would be hard pressed to find a lifting event higher on the cuteness scale. All of the kids did a great job and showed great sportsmanship. We also had a Farmers Walk with 190 pound competition units and a Repetition Deadlift with a 309 Pound Barbell. Of course, the Atlatl demo had to be paused so we could use the field. Everyone loved the spear throwing with the primitive tools. I do try to get something in there that is a little off the wall, even for this group.

Punctuating all of this we had Jeff “Chain Breaker” Bankens, all the way from Louisiana, doing bits and pieces of his act that he does on the road, including a classic water bottle routine. This is the first time I had seen that done live.  In the Atomic Athletic Training Center we had Sensei Mike Sherman, of American Kenpo, giving a competition kettlebell seminar and mini-competition. While people were there, they bought T-shirts, posters and equipment… all to the smell of free popcorn and cotton candy, a favorite of the kids.

A great time was had by all. I would like to give a special thanks to everyone who helped out, especially Dennis Habecker and Al Myers, who each managed and brought equipment for the Heavy Lifts Championships, as well as Jeff Rybek, who managed loading the weights. There were many other people who helped out as well, but in addition to special expertise, these moved some real weight in the sun. Loaders, administrators and referees rarely get much credit. Just to give you an idea, the heaviest lift was a 2075 Hip Lift…

Make sure to keep checking out the Atomic Athletic web site, USAWA Facebook page and the Atomic Athletic Facebook page for more updates.

Live strong, Roger LaPointe

ET’s 905 Neck Lift!

by Al Myers

Eric Todd established a new Overall World Record Neck of 905# at the 2012 Heavy Lift Championships. Longtime allrounder John Kurtz is in the background watching this impressive lift.

I didn’t think it would be possible – seeing Chad’s big WR Neck Lift of 900 pounds get broke so soon.  But it did happen, and just like last year, happened at the event highlighting the chain lifts, the Heavy Lift Championships.  Eric Todd, of Cameron Missouri, put up successful lifts last weekend in the Neck Lift of 700#, 800#, 860#, and then with his extra record set the record with a lift of 905#!  As I said yesterday, the 900 barrier is now the level to shot for to be considered as “one of the best” in the Neck Lift. I always knew ET might have this ability in him.  He is a former wrestler and has a neck like a NFL linebacker.  I also knew he had the mental toughness to not be intimidated by this large amount of weight.  He made the lift rather easily as well.  Congratulations Eric on setting this new record!!!

Heavy Lift Championships

by Al Myers

Group picture from the 2012 USAWA Heavy Lift Championships: (front left to right) Roger LaPointe, Al Myers, Denny Habecker, Eric Todd, Scott Schmidt (Back) Dave Polzin

This past Saturday Roger LaPointe, of Atomic Athletic, hosted the 2012 USAWA Heavy Lift Championships.  It was held in conjunction with his annual promotion, the Atomic Athletic Great Black Swamp Olde Time Strongman Picnic.  After last year’s Heavies in York, I didn’t know if that meet could be topped, but after attending Roger’s event I think it was!   The combination of the championships and the picnic were a perfect fit – it led to a festive environment along with many spectators.  Roger did an EXCELLENT JOB of bringing everything together to celebrate a day of strength. Along with the Championships, there were several strength shows by other strongmen going on.  All of this was topped off with a big meal for everyone in attendance.  I won’t say anymore about the picnic activities as I will leave that story for Roger to tell later.

Myself (left) and Roger LaPointe (right). Roger did an outstanding job of promoting the USAWA Heavy Lift Championships!

The meet itself was well attended for a Heavy Lift Championships. All together 7 lifters entered – a mixture of heavy lift veterans and a couple of new lifters to the “chain lifts”.  This meet doesn’t appeal to all lifters, and generally the Heavy Lift Champs doesn’t get more entries than this, so I was very pleased with the turnout.  It ended up “being a battle” between Eric Todd and myself for the overall champion.  It came down to the last event, the Hip Lift, to decide the day’s champion.  I was in order before ET, so I pushed myself and got a 2000# Hip Lift to put a little pressure on him.  He responded well, and put up with a personal record Hip Lift of 2075# to edge me out by only 3 adjusted points. I will have to do some research on this, but I’m guessing this is the closest finish for the overall lifter EVER in a Heavy Lift Championships.  Eric was the one who “stole the show” of the day on the whole – he started off the meet with an overall ALL TIME USAWA & WORLD RECORD in the Neck Lift with an unbelievable lift of 905 pounds!!!  His new record topped Chad Ullom’s 900 from last years Heavy Champs, which has now become the norm for being one of the best in the Neck Lift.   It was a really impressive lift, and I expect will inspire Chad to lift even more.  I fully expect one of these two lifters to be the first to break the “magic barrier” of 1000 pounds in the Neck Lift.  It will happen.  I was glad to see ET enter this big meet and win this championships. Most don’t know this, but ET has been competing in the USAWA longer than I have (by 6 months).  He has never really traveled far to meets in the USAWA as he has been focused on his pro strongman career.  He is a gifted all rounder and I kidded him he is still a youngster (at 37) in the USAWA and his best years are still ahead of him.

Dennis Mitchell giving an interview to the local TV station.

On the other end of the spectrum is Dennis Mitchell.  Dennis is now 80 years old and was the oldest lifter in this meet.  For his age, Dennis is remarkable.  Most guys his age would never take on lifts like the Heavy Lifts.  Dennis is a “master” at these lifts, and constantly surprises me with his lifting.  He told me last weekend that this month marks 69 years since he began lifting weights (that’s right, 69 years!!!!).   Also, he has competed throughout this whole time. That is one long lifting career!!!  I was glad to see Dennis get recognized by being interviewed by the local TV station.

Another lifting milestone was achieved this past weekend as well.  Our USAWA President Denny Habecker told me that Saturday marked 50 years since his first lifting competition – to the day!!!   I made sure to celebrate this occasion with Denny after the meet.  Denny multi-tasked all day as a lifter and as the head official, as well as bringing the heavy bar and accessories for the meet.  Many things happen in the USAWA only because of Denny!! He finished with a record lift in the Hip Lift at 944 pounds.

I was glad to see competing the two newcomers, wily veteran Olympic Lifter Dave Polzin, and the big talented young kid Thomas Casillas.  Both have tremendous abilities, and with a little practice on the Heavy Lifts will be very good Heavy Lifters. Dave really impressed me after the meet when he did a 198# Clean and Press at the age of 62 for an age group record!!!  Andrew Durniat made an appearance as well in one of the strongman shows.  I hadn’t seen Andrew in a year, but immediately I could tell that he has added some muscular size since then.  He did a 166# one arm snatch for a new record.  This is one of the best one arm snatches of the year in the organization.  Andrew’s strength in a lift like this shows that he is “way more” than just a grip lifter.  I’m hoping that we will continue to see Andrew compete in the USAWA, as he is a great person as well as a superb lifter.

Athletic Atomic club member Dave Polzin performed a 198# Clean and Press at the age of 62!!!!

Another all -round lifter who was in attendance but did not compete was the Cleveland lifter John Kurtz.  John trained under the legendary Howard Prechtel and obviously has a wealth of information.  I enjoyed visiting with him throughout the day and getting to know him.  His name is “littered” throughout our USAWA record list with impressive records, and it was nice to be able to “put a name with a face”.   He has had some health issues of late, but he still looked like he was in lifting shape to me!!!  I hope to see him get “back into action” in USAWA competition.  The only person I have not mentioned yet is Scott Schmidt.   I saved Scott for last because I want to make sure everyone knows how much he contributes to our organization.  Scott is part of the 5-person executive board that governs the USAWA, and is very influential “behind the scenes”.  He is always very helpful at meets, and one of the better officials in the organization.  He put up a great lift of 1005# in the Hand and Thigh as well and placing third overall in this meet.


Heavy Lift Championships
Bowling Green, Ohio
May 12, 2012

Meet Director:  Roger LaPointe

Lifts:  Neck Lift, Hand and Thigh Lift, Harness Lift

Officials:  Denny Habecker, Dennis Mitchell, Scott Schmidt, Eric Todd, Al Myers

Announcer: Roger LaPointe

Scorekeeper: Al Myers

Loader: Jeff Rybek

Eric Todd 37 252 860 1200 2075 4135 3266.6
Al Myers 45 240 700 1100 2000 3800 3263.1
Scott Schmidt 59 249 287 1005 1400 2692 2567.8
Dave Polzin 62 215 330 750 900 1980 2090.3
Denny Habecker 69 196 0 600 900 1500 1761.4
Dennis Michell 80 154 240 400 550 1190 1756.8
Thomas Casillas 15 305 0 600 0 600 496.9

NOTES:  BWT is bodyweight in pounds.  TOT is total pounds lifted.  PTS are adjusted points for bodyweight correction and age allowance.


Eric Todd  Neck Lift:  905#
Denny Habecker Hand & Thigh Lift: 705#
Denny Habecker Hip Lift: 944#
Dennis Mitchell Hand & Thigh Lift: 450#
Dennis Mitchell  Hip Lift: 625#
Thomas Casillas Hand and Thigh: 700#
Dave Polzin Clean and Press: 198#
Andrew Durniat Snatch – Left Arm: 166#
(33 years old, 230 lbs. BWT)

Rattenberry’s Inman Mile Walk

by Steve Gardner


Mark Rattenberry, of the Tiverton Club, walked 503 meters in his Inman Mile Walk.

Mark Rattenberry making a record attempt at the Inman Mile at Tiverton at the weekend, he beat the previous best mark of 268 metres by walking an amazing 503 Metres with one and a half times bodyweight. The event was all for charity, and Mark was joined in the attempts by Gary Ell, Axel Amos and Tom Cleverly, well done lads!

USAWA History – 1989 Nationals

by Al Myers

John Vernacchio repeated as meet director again at the USAWA Nationals Championships in 1989.  The meet was held in Plymouth Meeting, the site of the prior 1988 Nationals.  It was a grueling 2 day affair, with many of the same lifts contested as the year before.  The meet climaxed with the Hip Lift, with Steve Schmidt hitting the best Hip Lift of the meet with a great lift of 2400 pounds which gave him the BEST LIFTER of the meet for the second time in two years.  Cindy Garcia won the BEST LIFTER in the womens division for the first womens CHAMPION (no women competed in the first ever championships).  Meet attendance at this Nationals exceeded the prior year with 34 lifters competing in 1989.  Several “well recognized” USAWA members made their USAWA  National Championships debut in this meet: Noi Phumchaona, Howard Prechtel, Dennis Mitchell, Joe McCoy, and Frank Ciavattone.

The one unique feature of the 1989 USAWA National Championship was that it was held IN CONJUNCTION with the 1989 IAWA World Championships.  The same lifts were contested and a USAWA  lifters lifts would count for both Championships!!!  This is the only time in the history of the USAWA and the IAWA that this has happened. 


1989 USAWA National Championships
June 24-25, 1989
Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania

Meet Director: John Vernacchio

Lifts: One Hand Deadlift, Neck Lift, Clean and Press heels together, Zercher, Hip Lift, Bench Press feet in air, Pullover and Push, One Hand Snatch, Continental to Chest, Front Squat

Men: Top Ten Placings
1. Steve Schmidt, Missouri
2. Art Montini, Pennsylvania
3. Tim Bruner, Texas
4. John McKean, Pennsylvania
5. Phil Anderson, Texas
6. Brian Meek, Texas
7. Bill DiCiccio Sr., Pennsylvania
8. John Carter, Missouri
9. Jim Bufalini, Pennsylvania
10. John Vernacchio, Pennsylvania

Women: Top Two Placings
1. Cindy Garcia, Missouri
2. Noi Phumchaona, Ohio

Best Lifter Awards:
Women Open – Cindy Garcia
Women Master – Noi Phumchaona
Men Open – Steve Schmidt
Men Master – Art Montini
Men Junior – Frank Shuba, Jr.

World Postal LEG 1

by Steve Gardner


(Leg 2 to be completed by End of July – Steinborn, OH C+Jerk, and Zercher)

For the World postal League, teams have been permitted to lift with only one referee if it has not been possible for those teams to have 2 or 3 referees. Where only one referee was used, those results have not been submitted for records ratification. Two guests (non IAWA members) have also been permitted to lift to assist in the making of teams, and once again their results were not eligible to be forwarded for records ratification.

Lifts in Leg 1: Snatch – One Arm, Pullover and Push, Jefferson Lift

1. Dino Gym – USA

 Al Myers  111.5  115  45  72.5R  170  260  502.5  426.3
 Chad Ullom  112.9  115  40  67.5R  160  240  467.5  375.5

Team Total: 970 KGS   Amended Points: 801.8

2.  Powerhouse 1 – ENG

 Mark Price  94.4  95  47  55R  160  195  410  387.0
 James Gardner  92.1  95  28  55R  130  220  405  358.8

Team Total: 815 KGS  Amended Points: 745.8

3. Powerhouse 2 – ENG

Graham Saxton 121.7 125 50 37.5R 130 250 417.5 355.1
Luke Davis 80.0 80 27 45R 110 192.5 347.5 334.0

Team Total: 765 KGS   Amended Points: 689.1

4. W Australia 1 – AUS

John Mahon 108.1 110 28 50R 140 202.5 392.5 319.2
Peter Phillips 104.9 105 58 52.5R 95 180 327.5 321.9

Team Total: 720 KGS  Amended Points:  641.1

5.  Tiverton 1 – ENG

Gary Ell 86.7 90 41 42.9L 107.9 192.9 343.7 321.4
Mark Rattenberry 63.9 65 49 27.9L 75.4 160.4 263.7 306.3

Team Total: 607.4 KGS   Amended Points: 627.7

6.  Hoghton Barbell – ENG  (Calvin is a guest lifter from Burton – not an IAWA member) 

Mark Haydock 115.0 115 37 70R 130 284 484 381.3
Calvin Smith 74.5 75 19 35R 62.5 130 227.5 233.0

Team Total: 711.9 KGS  Amended Points: 614.3

7.  Granby Grippers - ENG   (Only 1 ref for Steve but 2 for Daniel) 

Daniel Andrews 65.7 70 15 30.5R 50.5 100 181 226.9
Steve Andrews 70.4 75 52 47.5R 115 160 322.5 376.0

Team Total: 503.5 KGS  Amended Points: 602.9

8.  Powerhouse 3 – ENG

John Gardner 137.2 125+ 29 55R 140 220 415 300.0
Paula Delemata 49.6 50 38 20.5R 42.5 100 163 292.8

Team Total: 578 KGS  Amended Points: 592.8

9.  Castlemilk Expendables 1 – SCO

Andy Tomlin 91.2 95 44 47.5L 100 165 312.5 292.3
Matt Finkle 67.3 70 45 35R 75 145 255 289.9

Team Total: 567.5 KGS  Amended Points: 582.2

10.  Tiverton 2 – ENG

Tom Perry 87.2 90 21 37.9R 117.9 177.9 333.7 304.9
Patrick Burt 71.9 75 23 27.9L 80.4 160.4 268.7 275.9

Team Total: 602.4 KGS  Amended Points: 580.8

11.  W Australia 2 – AUS

Sam Trew 116.5 120 29 52.5L 110 215 377.5 295.5
Paul McManus 112.5 115 38 50R 100 180 330 262.9

Team Total: 707.5 KGS  Amended Points: 558.4

12.  Habeckers Gym – USA

Denny Habecker 87.0 90 69 30R 100 135 265 324.9
Rudy Bletscher 97.5 100 76 25R 54.4 100 179.4 228.0

Team Total: 444.4 KGS   Amended Points:  552.9

13. Castlemilk Expendables 2 – SCO   (George Dick had 2 Refs But Jim Madden is a guest – not IAWA Member)

Jim Madden 89.9 90 43 37.5R 125 130 292.5 273.2
George Dick 128.7 125+ 63 37.5R 75 160 272.5 251.8

Team Total:  565 KGS  Amended Points: 525.0

14.  Tiverton 3 – ENG

Thomas Cleverley 75.5 80 21 25.4L 90.4 150.4 266.2 265.1
Axel Amos 83.0 85 23 27.9L 85.4 150.4 263.7 247.9

Team Total:  529.9 KGS  Amended Points: 513.0

15.  Coalville Outcasts – ENG     

Mark Shaw 77.2 80 51 27.5 60 132.5 220 242.2
Jason Reed 84.2 85 31 35 80 160 275 256.6

Team Total: 495 KGS  Amended Points: 498.8

16.  Powerhouse 4 – ENG   (just 4 Andy)

Steve Gardner 140.2 125+ 55 40R 100 150 290 240.7
Karen Gardner 72.7 75 53 17.5R 35 85 137.5 206.1

Team Total: 427.5 KGS  Amended Points: 446.8


1. Dino Gym – USA  801.8
2. Powerhouse 1 – ENG  745.8
3. Powerhouse 2 – ENG   689.1
4. W Australia 1 - AUS  641.0
5. Tiverton 1 - ENG  627.7
6.  Hoghton Barbell - ENG  614.3
7.  Granby Grippers - ENG   602.9
8.  Powerhouse 3 -  ENG  592.8
9.  Castlemilk Expendable 1 -  SCO  582.2
10.  Tiverton 2 -  ENG  580.8
11.  W Australia 2 - AUS  558.4
12.  Habeckers Gym -  USA  552.9
13.  Castlemilk Expendables 2 -  SCO  525.0
14.  Tiverton 3  - ENG  513.0
15.  Coalville Outcasts -  ENG  498.8
16.  Powerhouse 4 (Just 4 U Andy) -  ENG  446.8


Dino Gym – USA   Al Myers and Chad Ullom


Top Two Teams from each Country Count towards the ‘ Nations’  Team Score (1st = 15pts, 15th = 1pt)

1.   ENGLAND   27pts
2.   USA  20pts
3.   AUSTRALIA  18pts
4.   SCOTLAND  12pts

Lifters Rankings – Amended Totals at Leg One stage:

1.  Al Myers 426.3
2.  Mark Price  387.0
3.  Mark Haydock 381.3
4.  Steve Andrews  376.0
5.  Chad Ullom 375.5
6.  James Gardner  358.8
7.  Graham Saxton 355.1
8.  Luke Davis  334.0
9.  Denny Habecker 324.9
10.  Peter Phillips  321.9
11.  Gary Ell  321.4
12.  John Mahon  319.1
13.  Mark Rattenberry  306.3
14.  Tom Perry  304.9
15.  John Gardner  300.0
16.  Sam Trew  295.5
17.  Paula Delemata  292.8
18.  Andy Tomlin 292.3
19.  Matt Finkle  289.9
20.  Patrick Burt  275.9
21.  Jim Madden  273.2
22.  Thomas Cleverley 265.1
23.  Paul McManus  262.9
24.  Jason Reed 256.6
25.  George Dick 251.8
26.  Axel Amos  247.9
27.  Mark Shaw  242.2
28.  Steve Gardner 240.7
29.  Calvin Smith  233.0
30.  Rudy Bletscher  228.0
31.  Daniel Andrews  226.9
32.  Karen Gardner 206.1

Top Ten Lifters – O H Snatch

1.  Al Myers  61.5
2.  Steve Andrews  55.3
3.  Mark Haydock  55.1
4.  Chad Ullom  54.2
5.  Mark Price  51.9
6.  Peter Phillips 51.6
7.  James Gardner 48.7
8.  Andy Tomlin 44.4
9.  Luke Davis 43.2
10.  John Mahon  40.6

Top Ten Lifters – Pullover and Push

1.  Mark Price 151.0
2.  Al Myers 144.2
3.  Steve Andrews 134.1
4.  Chad Ullom 128.5
5.  Denny Habecker 122.6
6.  Jim Madden 116.7
7.  James Gardner 115.1
8.  John Mahon 113.8
9.  Graham Saxton 110.5
10.  Tom Perry 107.7

Top Ten Lifters – Straddle Deadlift

1.  Mark Haydock  223.7
2.  Al Myers 220.5
3.  Graham Saxton 212.6
4.  James Gardner 194.9
5.  Chad Ullom 192.7
6.  Steve Andrews  186.5
7.  Mark Rattenberry 186.3
8.  Luke Davis 185.0
9.  Mark Price  184.0
10.  Gary Ell  180.4


Top Junior 1st Calvin Smith  2nd Daniel Andrews
Top Female 1st Paula Delemata 2nd Karen Gardner
Top Open Lifter 1st Mark Haydock  2nd James Gardner
Top Masters 40+ 1st Chad Ullom  2nd Gary Ell
Top Masters 45+  1st Al Myers  2nd Mark Price
Top Masters 50+ 1st  Steve Andrews   2nd Graham Saxton
Top Masters 55+ 1st Peter Phillips
Top Master 60+ 1st George Dick
Top Master 65+ 1st Denny Habecker
Top Master 75+ 1st Rudy Bletscher

USAWA History – 1988 Nationals

by Al Myers

By now most USAWA lifters know that this year is a BIG YEAR for the USAWA.  At this year’s big event in Las Vegas this summer we will be celebrating the 25 year history of the USAWA and of  the USAWA National Championships.  I have made up several “special awards”  to recognize lifters who have had significant involvement in the USAWA National Championships through the years.  The awards are already done, and just waiting to be presented!  I also am going to have some posters made up to highlight the 25 year history of the USAWA. On this poster it will contain ALL of the past USAWA logos.  Each lifter that competes in Nationals will get one of these posters as part of their entry fee, and I will have more available for sale as well.

Nationals is now less than 2 months away.  I plan to take these next couple of months and “highlight” each of the past National Championships in our history.  These meets are a big part of our history, and I think it is only right to recognize some of the lifters who helped get us to where we are today. 

The following came from the Strength Journal written by Bill Clark following the first USAWA Nationals (September 10th, 1988):

Tireless John Vernacchio directed and lifted and led his Valley Forge team to first place in a one-man demonstration of dynamic energy July 9-10 in Plymouth Meeting, PA. as the new United States All-Round Weightlifting Association staged its first-ever National All-Round Championships. 

Vernacchio thus completed his second in a three-sport round of national lifting championships.  In 1987, he was the meet director (and organizer and lifter) for the National Masters Weightlifting Championships.  In 1989, he’ll do the same for the National Masters Powerlifting meet for the USPF.

The meet was staged in the George Washington Motor Lodge (home of the other two nationals masters competitions), a fine venue which offers both lodging and lifting in the same building.  Since John now owns all kinds of harness, we can assume that sometime in the future, we’ll see the IAWA Worlds here.  The field was only 18 – but the lifters came from Missouri, Texas, Iowa, New York, Ohio, Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.  A field of 18 may not sound great, but remember that the first National Masters Meet held in Columbia, MO in 1975 drew only 16.  Now we’re looking for 200-plus at the World Meet in Florida this December and 27 nations are now involved. A dozen years from now, the all-rounds could be huge.

Steve Schmidt proved to be the best lifter in the meet, winning for the second time in the hip lift at Phil Anderson’s expense.  Phil won the first meeting between the two strongmen in the nine-eventer against England last November.  But Steve evened matters in January at the Zercher Meet in Columbia, MO making a 3100 harness lift to catch his Texas rival.

Best master was Art Montini.  The 60 year-old Montini won the open 165-lb class with a 3165 total and came up with an adjusted total of 4662.42 points.  He edged Vernacchio, who had 4636.47 points, and struggled with a 1050 hip lift when at least 1400 was his goal.


1988 USAWA National Championships
July 9-10, 1988
Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania

Meet Director: John Vernacchio

Lifts: Leg Press, Clean & Press – heels together, Front Squat, Hand & Thigh, Bench Press – feet in air, Deadlift – one hand, Zercher, Hip Lift

Men: Top Ten Placings
1. Steve Schmidt, Missouri
2. Phil Anderson, Texas
3. Joe Garcia, Missouri
4. John Vernacchio, Pennsylvania
5. John McKean, Pennsylvania
6. Dan Ciccarelli, Pennsylvania
7. Italo Bonacci, Pennsylvania
8. Gonzalo Gonzalez, New York
9. Art Montini, Pennsylvania
10. Bill Clark, Missouri

Best Lifter Awards:
Men Open – Steve Schmidt
Men Master – Art Montini
Men Junior – Casey Clark
Men 40-44 Age Group – John McKean
Men 45-49 Age Group – Bill DiCiccio, Sr.
Men 50-54 Age Group – John Vernacchio
Men 55-59 Age Group – Gonzalo Gonzalez
Men 60-64 Age Group – Art Montini
Men 65-69 Age Group – Harrison Skeete
Team Champion – Valley Forge Club

I also want to mention of a few other USAWA members who competed in this FIRST-EVER USAWA National Championships.  Our USAWA Postal Meet Director John Wilmot was a participant as well as the famous all-round strength historian Tom Ryan. Both of these guys are still very involved with the USAWA today, and their involvement with the first ever Nationals shows that their involvement has been there from the very beginning.  I sure would like to see these two guys (as well as others that attended this first Nationals) make it this year to Vegas to help celebrate with us!!

Zercher: A Lift and A Lifter

by Roger LaPointe

Ed Zercher performing a deadlift.

Wow! Imagine if they named a lift after you!

You know you have really done something amazing in the world of weightlifting when that day comes. Lots of people set records, but very few get that named lift. There’s the Hack Lift, the Zottman Curl, the Scott Curl and then there is Ed Zercher’s squat, called the Zercher Lift.

You can read all about the proper way to do a Zercher Lift in the USAWA Rulebook. Basically, it is a front squat with the bar held in the crook of your arms.

Various individuals will tout the benefits of a Zercher Squat and others will talk about the dangers. I prefer an unorthodox way of doing it, using a rotating thick bar, as the lift can be very hard on the biceps tendons. Basically, the smaller the diameter of the bar, the greater the biceps stress. However, few people know about some of the truly amazing lifting that Ed did before becoming known for his signature lift.

Edward Zercher’s Early Lifting

At the Fifth Annual Western AAU Weight Lifting Championships Ed Zercher (Bodyweight 156 Pounds), had the following lifts:

One Hand Snatch: 120 lbs.
One Hand Clean & Jerk: 130
Two Hand Military Press: 170
Two Hand Snatch: 145
Two Hand Clean & Jerk: 200
Total 765

Ed was also a Loader and Official in the meet. This was Oct. 27, of 1934.

The December 1934 issue of The Arena and Strength reports that Edward Zercher also had the 2 Hands Deadlift record (165 lbs. Bdwt.) of 536 pounds. We also have a photo of Ed doing a 536 Deadlift, but the caption says he weighed 155.

I highly recommend using bumper plates when training the Zercher Lift, as you can dump the weight without having the damage issues associated with iron plates. When those biceps tendons suddenly start hurting, it really is best to dump it quickly. If you don’t already know the “good pain vs. bad pain” difference, be prepared to learn.

Bob Burtzloff on Training (circa 1981)

by Thom Van Vleck

Bob Burtzloff participated in Olympic Weightlifting as well as All Round Weightlifting. He was multiple times Kansas State Champ in Olympic Lifting.

Most everyone that has been around the USAWA any amount of time knows who Bob Burtzloff is and what a great champion he has been and continues to be.  Some of the older USAWA lifters may think of Bob’s great Bent Pressing, One Arm Clean & Jerk, or his Steinborn.  Bob has some great accomplishments.  In my book, his greatest accomplishment was beating Wilbur Miller’s Clean and Jerk record.

The training information below was relayed in 1981 to Bill Clark from a man Bill described as a “23 year old 242lb Bricklayer”.   I personally think the wisdom Bob relays is timeless and what he views as most important is what most lifters miss out on in their search for the “magic routine”.

Bob wrote:

“My workout is not fancy, but it helped me.  I pick a certain number of exercises to do in a workout.  I usually do at least three differenet movements.  Sometimes more depending on time and energy.  I pick a weight and number of reps that I want to do in the exercise.  For example, if I’m doing snatches with 250, I would do 15 total reps, regardless of the number of sets it takes.  I have used this type of routine for up to 50 reps, although 15 total reps works best for me.  I once did 50 jerks with 320, but was sore for a week.  Still, the work allowed me to break Wilbur Miller’s Clean & Jerk record only 10 days after the training effort.  Here’s and example of some of my best heavy workouts:

C&J – 363 X 15, 320X 50 total
Front Squat – 385 X 15 total
Snatches – 220 X 15, 231 X 15, 241 X 15, 251 X 15, 251 X 1, 271 X 1 – all in the same workout.
Bench – 360 X 15 total
Military Press – 231 X15 total
One Hand C&J – 203 X 15 total

I believe that desire and mental attitude are more important in making gains than any particular workout routine.  One must have a strong desire to accomplish what he sets out to do or he’ll quit when things get tough.  A strong, unyielding desire to succeed is essential in maintaining a positive mental attitude.   If a person has a positive outlook on  training, he will be able to work harder and with heavier weights.  Many people allow their attitude toward training  to defeat them long before they step onto the competitive platform.  If a lifter overcomes adverse circumstances in training, the effects will carry over into competition.   A good thing to remember is that attitude is more important than circumstances.  Circumstances give you neither defeat nor victory.  They merely provide you with the opportunity to see what your thoughts and convictions really are and what you intend to do with them.

Everyone encounters obstacles between them and their goals, but a positive attitude will allow a dedicated lifter to eventually break thru these barriers and achieve his goals.   The key to success is hard work followed by ample rest.  I’m not saying that I always have a positive attitude or that I always work hard, for if I did, I would be a much better lifter for it.”

The Australian Newsletter

by Al Myers

Australian allrounder John Mahon was featured in a promotional ad in a previous ARWLWA newsletter promoting the 2011 IAWA World Championships in Perth, Australia. John and Sam Trew are making plans to attend the 2012 IAWA Worlds in the US next October.

The ARWLWA (All-Round Weightlifting of Western Australia) just put out a copy of their newsletter, The All-Round Strength Athlete.  This past year or so they have been including a copy of this newsletter on their website so everyone in the World  interested in All Round Lifting can read it.  I am glad of this as I like to keep up on the news about all round weightlifting in Australia.  I recommend everyone go to their website and take a look at their newsletter:   I know I talked alot about this following the very successful IAWA World Championships the Australians hosted last November, but I was extremely impressed with the lifters and facilities at the Belmont Sports Club.   I am also very excited about their resurgent activity in the IAWA.   News has came to me that two Australians have already committed to the 2012 IAWA World Championships in the US (they have already bought the expensive plane tickets, so that qualifies them as committed!!!).  These two lifters are John Mahon and Sam Trew.  I met both of these guys at the last World Championships in Perth, and they are great guys and superb lifters. I will be looking forward to showing them the Kansas hospitality we have to offer here in the host state of next year’s IAWA Championships.  Actually, Kansas and Western Australia are very similar in terrain and landscape (both are flat and trees are scarce!).  We do have one favorable environmental factor over the Aussies – LOT LESS FLIES!!

Blasts from the Past

by Thom Van Vleck

Ed Zercher, the original "keeper of the odd lift records" doing an exhibition unsupported Leg Press with over 600lbs circa 1962.

Recently, Wayne Gardner visited me.  He is a Jackson Weightlifting Club member from way back and a frequent lifter in the midwest and early USAWA member.  Wayne provided me with some old newsletters of Clark’s and I made copies for me and Al.

Al’s recent announcement of the 2012 USAWA Team Championships made some interesting information pop out at me.  In the April 1, 1981 Region 8 Weightlifting Newsletter put out by Ol’ Clark himself there is a list of some “Odd Lift” records and one of the lifts is the “Two Man Team Curl”.  Two records are listed:

Two Man Team Curl

198lb Class – Glen Schwachter & Ed Zercher, Jr – 225lbs (1980)

Hvy Class – Robert Wilson & Ron Webster – 275lbs (1980)

There are also some records that go back to the early 1960’s.  Here are some of the more notable records:

Pullover and Prone Press

198lb Class – Homer Lewellen – 260lbs (1963)

Right Hand Hack Lift

Hvy Class – Bill Clark & Bill Fellows- 275lbs (1962)

Jerk Behind Neck with Snatch Grip Then a Full Squat with Weight Overhead (maybe the record for longest name, too!)

198lb Class – George Winkler – 240lbs (1962)

Now we start to go WAAAAY back.  Clark stated that the below records were Missouri Valley AAU marks prior to 1941.  So, while we don’t know the exact year these were set, they were set prior to or in 1941.

Right Hand Continental Press

148lb Class – Gordon Strain – 126.5lbs

Right Hand Clean and Bent Press

148lb Class – Gordon Strain – 174lbs

Right Hand Clean and Side Press

148lb Class – Gordon Strain – 142lbs

Two Hands Anyhow

148lb Class – Gordon Strain – 217lbs

Hvy Class – Ed Zercher, Sr. – 271lbs

Repetition Leg Presses (Unsupported)

Hvy class – Ed Zercher, Jr. – 200reps with 250lbs in 7 minutes 30 seconds – (set in 1952)

Hvy Class – Ed Zercher, Sr – 10 reps with 605lbs (set in 1962)

The oldest record listed that has a verified date is a Harness Lift done by Ed Zercher, Sr with 2150lbs in 1940.

Clark goes on to state that there were currently 59 lifts that records were being kept in at that time!  The latest of which was the Reverse Grip Clean and Press that was first done by my Uncle Wayne Jackson and in 2011 the Reverse Grip Press out of the rack was added to the modern list of USAWA records in his honor.

It’s interesting to me that we have some many lifts we keep records on and yet there are several of these lifts listed in the old record book that aren’t “modern” USAWA lifts!  We might have to look at some of these old time lifts and bring them back.  At any rate, here’s some old time records to test yourself against!  Have fun!

Lifter of the Month: Chad Ullom

by Al Myers

Chad Ullom performing a 425# Front Squat at the Ambridge BBC following the USAWA Club Challenge.

It’s the first of May, the grass is green and growing and some days it feels like the start of summer.  It’s also time to START something NEW in the USAWA.   As the USAWA Awards Director, I am going to take reign on this and start awarding a USAWA LIFTER OF THE MONTH from now on.  This award will primarily be a recognition award because there will not be any “cash prize” or “large trophy” to go with it.  But every month I see great performances in the USAWA and I would like to have some way of honoring these performances by our membership.  The selection of this award will be based on my judgement alone, and will take in factors such as outstanding performances, great lifts, participation, records set, and meets won.  I sure don’t mind if someone makes recommendations to me either for someone they think should be the recipient of it for the month.

Now for the first winner of the LIFTER OF THE MONTH for April 2012 – it goes to our USAWA Vice President Chad Ullom for his outstanding win in the Eastern Open Postal Meet, over what I would consider, one of the toughest field of opponents in any postal meet we have had to date.  Chad capped off his win by performing a Continental to Belt with 500 pounds, which is the most ever done in the USAWA in this lift.

Congratulations to Chad for being the USAWA Lifter of the Month for April!

Monster Garage Meet

by Larry Traub


2012 Monster Garage Meet
Georgetown, Indiana
April 29th, 2012

Meet Director: Larry Traub

Official: Dave Glasgow

Lifts: Squat, Bench Press, Deadlift
(Lifts marked by an asterik indicate they were done according to USAWA rules for these lifts: Bench Press – Feet in Air, Squat – 12″ base, Deadlift – 12″ base)

Larry Traub 58 203.3 500* 265* 600* 1365 1438.7
Ray Ganong 57 224.9 380* 325* 485* 1190 1177.2
Fred Sharp 19 141.6 305 210 385 900 1017.8
Dave Glasgow 58 247.6 340 255 440 1025 972.7
Les Cramer 70 187.4 295* 160 0 0 0

NOTES: BWT is bodyweight in pounds. All lifts recorded in pounds. TOT is total pounds lifted. PTS are adjusted points for age and bodyweight.

2000 Pounds of 100’s

by Roger LaPointe

Advertisement poster for the 2012 Atomic Athletic Great Black Swamp Oldetime Strongman Picnic.

When was the last time you saw 2,000 Pounds of plates that were all 100 Pounders?

The 2012 Heavy Lifts Championships at the Atomic Athletic Great Black Swamp Olde Time Strongman Picnic will have that many. I fully expect that someone will do a lift of OVER 1,500 pounds on Saturday, the 12th of May.

Make sure to check out the Atomic Athletic web page for photos of some of these monster lifts and the one of a kind Poster!

We will also have multiple chain lift bars, an assortment of heavy lifting harnesses and hand & thigh bars, not to mention all the smaller plates. Hopefully, we will even have need for the little Record Maker Plates. Those babies go down to the 1/4 Kg size. After all, a 1/2 Kg record is still a record.

The 3 lifts are: The Hip Lift, The Neck Lift and the Hand & Thigh Lift!

We now do our own classic Chain Lift bar design and a USAWA Regulation Bar. They are slightly different, but the same price.

Definitely don’t miss out on the Picnic! Remember, the Picnic and Heavy Lifts Championships are at the Old School on South Main in beautiful Bowling Green, OH. The action will be taking place on the sports fields with lifting platforms on the basketball court.

Live strong, Roger LaPointe

WEBMASTERS COMMENT: The entry deadline of May 9th is fast approaching for the 2012 USAWA Heavy Lifts Championships. It’s not to late to get entered!!

Team Championships

by Al Myers


Rudy Bletscher (left) and Mike Murdock (right) perform a very difficult team lift in last years Team Championship, the Team One Arm Dumbbell Press.

Due to some other local strength event conflicts, the date for the 2012 USAWA Team Championships has been moved up a couple of weekends this year.  As usual, this meet will be part of the Dino Days Weekend held at the Dino Gym.  For several years now the Dino Gym has had one weekend a year where we celebrate our Dino Days.  It is a full weekend of fun, both lifting and socializing.  Saturday night is an open invite to anyone who wants to come share in our evening BBQ, sponsored by the Dino Gym. You do not need to be a “gym member” to take part in this fun.   I’m planning on making this years Saturday evening party a “trial run”  for the big party I’m planning after the World Championships in October at my place.  So plan on staying after the meet for this!!!  One thing those of us in central Kansas are known for – it is our BBQ.  I’m thinking of a menu now of burgers, brats, grilled chicken, brisket, and possibly even ribs.  Add in some hot baked beans and potato salad for sides, and brownies and homemade ice cream for dessert and we got a meal that ought to fill everyone up.  All washed down with beer of course!  (I shouldn’t be writing this story right before lunch!!!)

But onto the meet details (the real reason we are getting together haha).   This year I picked 4 lifts that I think anyone could team up to do.  The lifts will be: Clean and Jerk – One Arm, Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip, Bent Over Row, and the 12″ base Deadlift.   I am sure that the Dino Gym will field at least 3 teams for this meet.  I have been somewhat disappointed in the attendance in the past Team Championships.  So this year I’m going to be CALLING OUT some other clubs to REPRESENT.  To start with there is NO REASON clubs like the JWC, Jobes Steel Jungle, Clarks Gym, the Ledaig AC, and KCStrongman are not in attendance.  These clubs are all within easy driving distances of this major USAWA competition.  It has been my dream since I started hosting  the Team Championships several years ago that the this meet would be one of those fun meets that lifters would not want to miss.  This meet doesn’t really put any pressure on you as a lifter.  After all if you don’t do well you can always blame it on your partner!!!!


Dino Days Record Day

by Al Myers


Meet Director: Al Myers and the Dino Gym

Meet Date: Sunday, August 12th, 2012 10:00 AM-4:00PM

Location: Dino Gym, Abilene, Kansas

Sanction: USAWA

Entry Form: None – just show up

Entry Fee: None

Lifts: Record Day – Pick any lifts you can set a USAWA record in!

Contact me at if you have any questions

Garage Days, Revisited

By Jarrod Fobes

Jarrod Fobes in action winning the 2009 AAU Freestyle Judo National Championship in the 210 pound division.

Long ago, back in a dark, distant past called “the late 90’s” things were very different. Starbucks was called coffee. Everyone could buy a house. And there was virtually no grappling training to be had in Lawrence, Kansas. Brazilian jujitsu hadn’t made it’s way into every strip mall in America, and the few judo schools I had visited before the Welcome Mat did not convince that I would learn effective groundfighting skills there. For my small group of friends, this left one option: break a few bones over the years figuring it out ourselves.

Very often, we would train in a friend’s detached single car garage. It was made out of cinder blocks, and featured an obstacle course of broken out windows and rusted pipes sticking from the wall. But it did have a 10′x10′ wrestling mat, and sturdy rafters to hang a punching bag from. There was no electricity, so we would train by lantern light after dark. I remember in cooler weather, you could see the steam rising off of the two combatants wrestling on the mat while the others tried to learn by watching.

We didn’t have a coach. We had a vast library of tapes and books: BJJ, judo, wrestling, catch wrestling, vale tudo…anything we could find. If we thought somebody knew a thing about fighting, we would beg them to come in and work with us. A couple of notables were a collegiate wrestling national champion, and a Navy boxer. I learned a lot from both of these guys, but I can probably count the sessions I had with them on two hands. Of course, there were a ton of self-proclaimed experts who somehow never made it to the mat with us. Oh well.

Your partner was your best training tool, period. Lots of good coaches will tell you this. But when you have the luxury of a good coach, you also have the luxury of ignoring him. I can’t tell you how many techniques I learned after saying “I saw this on a UFC last night. Tell me if it hurts.” Then one of us would fumble and twist a limb around, seeking that tap out, while the helpful dummy would tell you if and where it hurt, what you could try to make it better, tighter, faster, etc. I don’t doubt that I would have progressed faster with a coach in those early days, but I did learn to think for myself. Self-coaching has it’s advantages too. I never had a coach tell me something wouldn’t work. Or that a technique was not correct for judo/bjj/wrestling etc. “Can’t” wasn’t a common word. The ultimate aim was truth in fighting. Our early group came from pretty diverse backgrounds. We had a decent powerlifter and wrestler who just liked to scrap. Another came from a ninjitsu background before starting video based bjj training. Me, I had started Tae Kwon Do years before. After six months or so of training, I got into a high school fight with a smaller wrestler, who gave me a painless but humiliating beating. After that I stayed in karate and TKD for lack of other options in western Kansas, but I picked the brain of every fighter and wrestler that would let me.

I wasn’t the best guy in the garage. But I was the one who stuck around. Some guys jumped ship to train bjj in Kansas City. Some just bowed out as injuries accumulated and real life began to impose. In time, my kickboxing coach Dwane Lewis graciously offered to let me throw some mats in his gym, and the Lawrence Grappling Club was born. LGC operated for about seven years, and I learned just as much from teaching as I ever did from training. Students will ask you anything, and you had better have an answer. I began training at the Welcome Mat to finally get some consistent (and excellent) coaching. Not only did I learn how to fight, but how to teach.

After the LGC had been up and running for a few years (and getting a small but tough reputation) a prospective student called. At the end of the call he said “well, thanks for your time. I just wanted to make sure this wasn’t run out of a garage or something.” I thanked him for his call and hung up.

Garage training isn’t for everybody. There’s no music piped in, no showers, and admittedly questionable hygiene. But you will not find sissies there. You will not find belt-chasers, or politics. Whatever their degree of skill, you will find tough men and women dedicated to pursuing fighting in a way most people never will. If that’s not what your after, be sure to call ahead and make sure the place isn’t run out of a garage.

Breath, Stupid!

by Thom Van Vleck

Thom blowing up a hot water bottle till it burst. We all know Thom is the EXPERT when it comes to breathing, as he is "full of hot air". (photo and caption courtesy of the webmaster)

Recently my Mom returned from the doctor.  She was incredulous about what he had told her.  He had told her she was breathing wrong.  My Mom looked at me and said, “Who wouldn’t know how to breath?”.  I was also watching a kid’s show with my youngest son shortly after that.  One of the characters was depicted as being so stupid that he would periodically forget to breath and would turn blue forcing his companion to remind him to, “Breath, Stupid”!

We all know how to breath, right?  It pretty much comes naturally….doesn’t it?  The devil is in the details.  We may know how to breath, but breathing properly during exercise is important.  I have learned a great deal on this subject over the years and this little article won’t do the subject justice, but maybe it will get you thinking.

First of all, I was taught at a young age to “suck that gut in” and breath with your chest.  I recall at one time watching a video of Jack LaLanne saying just that.  When I was in the military I was constantly told to pull that stomach in and stand up straight.  Also, I was always a little self conscious as I’ve been a little overweight since I as a teenager.  So, “sucking it in” has been drilled in my head.  As a consequence, I have always had trouble getting my “wind” or getting too out of breath when I do something even slightly aerobic.  I never really thought much about it, just assumed I was out of shape and needed to work harder.

Then, one day I was doing some short sprints.  I began to notice that I would hold my breath when I would take off and focus on keeping my stomach super tight.  I then read something about learning to breath with your stomach, not your chest, and I began to work on that.  Believe it or not, it was an article on how to play the trumpet!  All of a sudden, I found I had better “wind”.  In other words, I wasn’t as out of breath when I breathed through my stomach and not my chest.  I also began to take deep breaths using my stomach before exertion, before going out to squat, sprint, or do strongman harness pulls.  Using the stomach to breath deep, full breaths filling my lungs helped me have better “wind”.  It also came in hand with one of my specialty feats of strength….blowing up a hot water bottle!

Second, I began to think about my use of the Valsalva Maneuver.   About ten years ago I had an “Idiopathic Sub-retinal Neo-vascularization” in the retina of my left eye.  Basically, I had a small tear in my retina and a vein grew through it like crab grass in the crack of a sidewalk.  As a result, the “crab grass” had to be zapped with a laser and I lost some vision.  It was called “Idiopathic” because there was no readily apparent cause.  I now suspect it may have been Valsava Retinopathy.  This is when a tear occurs in the retina following pressure buildup likely during the use of the Valsalva Maneuver in lifting.

What is the Valsalva Maneuver?  It’s simply taking and holding a deep breath during exertion or if you want to get technical, a “forcible exhalation against a closed glottis”.  I had done that for years.  When you hold your breath you build up intra-abdominal pressure and in turn solidify your core.  This is a primary reason for using a lifting belt.  You use the belt to push your abdomen against and increase the internal pressure.  The support in the back is really secondary in my book.  There is a theory as to why you get light headed during extended periods of using the Valsalva Maneuver.  It involves the Vagus Nerve that runs by your Carotid Artery.  The idea is that as the blood pressure goes up the Vagus Nerve is stimulated causing you to faint so you pass our before you stroke out!   That’s just a theory.  Personally, I would guess the fact you have stopped breathing has something to do with becoming light headed!  The rapid change in blood pressure could also factor in.  At any rate, this is often what gets blamed, and likely rightfully so in most cases, for deaths when lifters get pinned by a heavy bench press when lifting alone.

So, how are you supposed to breath?  The reality is that if you are doing a max effort for single or low reps you are going to hold your breath at some point and take advantage of the intra-abdominal pressure.  You just can’t avoid it.  However, most “experts” will say to breath out during the concentric part of the lift and in during the eccentric whenever possible.  This is what I’ve tried to do as well with most exercises.  There are some that I do the opposite.   For example, from time to time I mix in some high rep leg presses for a set of 100 or more reps nonstop (I know, real lifters don’t leg press….unless it’s an old school leg press like Ed Zercher used to do).  When I do these I have a lot of compression at the bottom so I breath out on the eccentric (going down), which is the opposite.  I basically breath in the way that keeps the intra-abdominal pressure lowest.

Bottom line:  Think about your breathing during each and every exercise!   Breath deep, through the stomach, not the chest.  Keep that intra-abdominal pressure as low as you can and save it for the big lifts!  By the way, I talked to my Mom’s doctor and he noted she was breathing with her chest, not her stomach and this was creating pressure in her abdomen and with her high blood pressure this was not good.  She is learning how to breath, too!

Back Extensions

by Al Myers

The top picture is the starting position for a Back Extension, while the lower picture is the finishing position.

This is an excellent “finishing movement” to a heavy night of deadlifting and squatting. On top of that, it is an Official USAWA Lift!  It is in our Rulebook and but TOTALLY ABSENT in our Record List.  NO ONE has ever done it in a record day and it has never been contested in a USAWA competition.   This surprises me as it is a great exercise that works the lower back.  I like doing them after my heavy training and train them in a higher rep fashion, but this lift is well-suited for a maximum attempt.  I’ll refresh everyone on the USAWA Rule for Back Extensions as I’m sure most lifters are not familiar with this lift:

D11.  Extension – Back

A Roman Chair or similar apparatus is used for this lift. A bar is placed in front of the Roman Chair on the platform. The lifter will take a position on the Roman Chair facing the platform that allows the lifter’s body to bend fully downward at the waist. The seat must not touch the lifter’s torso. The legs must be straight and may be secured. The seat must be parallel to the floor and must not be raised at any angle. At the lifter’s discretion, the lifter will bend at the waist to a 90 degree angle, and fix the bar into the crooks of the elbows, with the arms bent. Once in this position, an official will give a command to rise. The lifter will raise the body to a position where the line of the back is parallel to the platform. The bar must remain fixed in the crooks of the elbows or it will be a disqualification. There must not be any downward movement of the body once the body has started to rise. Once the lifter is motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift.

The biggest difficulty with this lift is having the proper apparatus to do it on.  The seat must be the perfect height to allow the lifter to bend at the waist and place the bar in the crooks of the elbows at a full bend of 90 degrees.  Also, the feet must be secured  staight back for support.  An apparatus like this is usually not available in most gyms, and thus probably why this lift has not been done.  I like using my Glute-Ham device for this as the seat and feet supports are adjustable and allows me to get into perfect position. 

I have never done a max attempt on Back Extensions, but just might do one at my next record day.  After all, it looks like setting a record in it would be very easy as there are not any!!! However, don’t expect to get an IAWA World Record in the Back Extension as this lift IS NOT an IAWA official lift.

Eastern Open Postal

by Al Myers


Chad Ullom performed this 501# Continental to Belt to help him win the 2012 Eastern Open Postal Meet. Chad is the first and only USAWA lifter to have exceeded 500 pounds in the Continental to Belt.


Eastern Open Postal Meet
March 30th, 2012

Meet Director:  John Wilmot

Lifts: Bench Press – Feet in Air, Front Squat, Continental to Belt

Lifters using a Certified Official:

Gabby Jobe – Official Jesse Jobe
Troy Goetsch – Officials Dan Bunch, Bryan Benzel
Denny Habecker – Officials Scott Schmidt, John McKean, Art Montini
Zach Jelinek – Officials Bryan Benzel, Jesse Jobe
Jesse Jobe – Officials Dan Bunch, Bryan Benzel
Chad Ullom – Official Al Myers
Eric Todd – Official Lance Foster
Bryan Benzel – Officials Dan Bunch, Jesse Jobe
Lance Foster – Official Eric Todd
Dan Bunch – Officials Jesse Jobe, Bryan Benzel

Lifters using a non-certified Judge:

Les Cramer – Judge Monica Cook
Sam Rogers – Judge Orie Barnett
John Wilmot – Judge Kay Wilmot
Orie Barnett – Judge Sam Rogers


Gabby Jobe 9 89 50 55 65 170 370.9



 Chad Ullom  40  246  287  452  501  1240  1001.9
 Eric Todd  37  253  350  405  475  1230  969.9
 Troy Goetsch  25  194  280  355  360  995  904.5
 Bryan Benzel  24  287  365  420  410  1195  885.8
 Sam Rogers  49  210  285  277  320  882  844.0
 Les Cramer  70  183  200  227  252  679  836.4
 Orie Barnett  51  231  246  305  342  893  826.9
 Jesse Jobe  35  225  250  250  450  950  795.9
 Zach Jelinek  23  200  185  230  280  695  621.1
 John Wilmot  65  213  130  175  230  535  581.8
 Dan Bunch  47  317  265  190  300  755  579.6
 Lance Foster  46  320  180  250  330  760  578.1
 Denny Habecker  69  191  195  0  267  462  550.6


Notes:  All bodyweights are recorded in pounds. All lifts are listed in points.  Total is the total pounds lifted. Points are the adjusted points for age and bodyweight.

Power Swings

by Al Myers

The top picture shows the starting position of a Power Swing, while the bottom picture shows the finishing position.

Another exercise that I really like to do after my heavy leg/back training is power swings. I have done this exercise “off and on” for many years. Years ago it was one of my favorite training exercises for helping my weight over bar.  The positions are just the same as throwing the WOB (standing style that is!), and builds quick explosive strength in the hips.  This exercise is easy to do.  Take a parallel stance with feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Grip the swing implement with both hands and swing it up to 90 degrees, keeping the arms straight. As the weight hits the peak, drive up the hips to a standing position.  Multiple reps can be done by allowing the weight to “sink between the legs” and performing another attempt without setting the implement down. I like sets of 10 reps or so.

This exercise can also be done one handed.  That is the way I use to train it when I was in throwing in the Highland Games. I felt the one-handed training more directly applied to the WOB.  However, now I prefer the two-handed style as I’m using it as a “finishing movement” to my heavy leg/back day.  I  use an adjustable powerstairs handle to add weight to.  Kettlebells also work well but they are more difficult to grip two handed. Years ago I made a full set of what I call SWING WEIGHTS (now swing bells, as that is another type of training implement) to use for training one-handed power swings.  They are fixed weight implements.

The Power Swing pin loader and attached handle.

The handle can easily be removed from this pin loader to add/remove weight.  All it takes is removing one bolt. The total height of this implement is 16 inches, which I feel is the perfect height to allow the weight to swing to a deep position. Performing 4 or 5 sets of 10-20 reps in 15 minutes at the end of your workout is all you need.  You will feel the work in your lower back and hip flexors.  I really do think these type of exercises following a training session of heavy deadlifts and squats “loosens” thing up, and speeds up the recovery process afterwards.  Of course, that is just my opinion.  But it will leave you “feeling good”, as this always works up a sweat and gives my a little cardio training to end a  good heavy workout.

Zercher Pull Throughs

by Al Myers

The top picture shows the bottom starting position of a Zercher Pull Through, while the bottom picture shows the finishing position.

I have written a blog before about how we “at the Dino Gym” do some light accessory movements after our hard Squat/Deadlift workout.  In that story I covered one exercise that we really like – the Rounded Back Platform Deadlift.  Look back in the blog archives to refresh your memory of that lift, as it is an excellent “finisher movement”.   The purpose of these exercises is NOT TO BUILD STRENGTH (as hopefully your heavy training in the session up that point has already done that), but rather, to “wind down” a workout with an exercise that will increase the blood flow to the lower back and hips, and aid in the recovery process.  I also like doing these movements as it is mentally refreshing as well.  Up till this point the entire workout is about going ALL OUT, and then you get to “change gears” and do a movement that is not strength demanding to finish off the night, but instead stamina demanding.  I’m not saying these movements are EASY though, sometimes they can leave you quite worn out.   I’m not a big fan of high reps to build strength as I’ve never had success with getting stronger by training high reps.  In my heavy stuff I never go over 5 reps, and most of the time it is 1-3 reps on lifts.  But with these “finisher” movements I like to hit lots of reps – like up to 20 or so.   I keep the rest short in between sets and do 3-5 sets total.  It will leave you breathing hard as well!   All the time you need to allot for a finisher movement is 15-20 minutes.  Not a big commitment time wise – most guys spend more time than that packing their gym bag up after their workout.

Now onto the Zercher Pull Throughs. Pull Throughs are a popular exercise for lifters.  The movement focuses on the lower back and hips.  I have done them several different ways – with straps around the arms, ropes to the hands, etc.  But the way I like them BEST is doing them Zercher style.  I have not really read about anyone else doing them these way, but I’m sure others have done them this way as well.  So I’m not presenting this movement as something original by me, but rather describe how I do this movement and why I like it.  I perform this exercise using my lat pull.  I have a low pulley that mounts below the seat that is used for the low lat seat.  I attach a cable through this pulley to a short bar handle.  The cable is the length that allows me to position with the bar handle in the crooks of my arms in a low stance (as demonstrated in the picture).  I lean slightly forward and thrust upwards, extending the hips and straightening the legs.  I lower slowly, and at all times keeping tension, and then do another rep.  There is never a break in the action during these high rep sets.  Use a weight that forces you to work hard but not cause a break down in proper form.  Focus on maintaining proper breathing and just “feel the burn” in the hips and lower back as you add reps!  It is a very simple movement. 

Why do I like these Zercher Pull Throughs more than other types of Pull Throughs?   Like I’ve said, I’ve tried all types and even have special straps made to do them other ways.  I would like to say the reason is because I just love Zerchers so much as that is the reason, but in truth, it comes down to TWO REASONS that have nothing to do with loving the Zercher Lift.  The number one reason is that these Zercher Pull Throughs takes all stress of the arms and shoulders. Other Pull Throughs require you to be holding a strap of some kind in front of you.  This puts pressure on the arms and shoulders, and makes those muscles come into play enough that they become the limiting factor in the exercise, and not the hips and back as it should be.  Reason number two is kinda personal, lets just say a strap being rubbed continuously between the legs can result in friction burns to any body part in the vicinity.   That’s not a desirable thing in any type of exercise!

Rig up your lat pull machine to give this exercise a try.  I assure you that you will be impressed!

Building Bigger Legs

By Roger LaPointe

Wilbur Miller knows the value of building leg strength through squatting. He just recently did a 320 pound 12 inch base squat at the Dino Gyms Record Day at the age of 79!

The secret to building bigger legs is really knowing the tools of the trade. You simply don’t build a skyscraper without a solid foundation. To build that foundation you need the right tools.

I had a great conversation, which did result in a sale, with a very high level basketball coach. As you might expect, he is dealing with very tall men who really are not built to be weightlifters. Yet, they do need the strength and explosiveness in their legs that serious weightlifting will bring them. We talked about the various bars I personally use, unsurprisingly, they are the same type of bars he uses, with slight variations. I regularly use an Olympic weightlifting bar with super smooth rotation, a stiff thick bar, a shrug/trap type bar, and a safety squat bar. At a height of 5 foot 3 inches, I am using them somewhat differently than his potential NBA recruits.

These are the exercises you need to do for building big and explosive legs:
1. Back Squats
2. Clean Pulls or, better yet, Power Cleans
3. A grip building exercise, such as Thick Bar Deadlifts
4. Front squat type movement – for some coaching situations, based on sport, facility resources, and/or body type – shrug bar deadlifts or a safety squat bar squats will be best

Now you need to apply these correctly.

Live strong,
Roger LaPointe

PS. If you can possibly get there, you need to come to the Atomic Athletic Great Black Swamp Olde Time Strongman Picnic. The real draw is the other people who attend. We have had coaches from the worlds of: football, track & field, basketball, mma, wrestling, cycling, boxing and a wide variety of other sports. This is your chance to pick their brains. Don’t miss it. Who knows, they might surprise you and try to pick your brain…

My Friend Andy Goddard

by Steve Gardner

Steve Gardner lifting Andy Goddard overhead at the 2003 IAWA World Championships in Perth, Australia.

I have been asked to write a bit about the late Andy Goddard, as time moves on and newer members join, not everyone knows who he was and why we have a postal match named after him …….

I first met Andy 20 years ago when he wandered into my gym to watch an all round competition that was taking place.  He lived locally and told me he had been in the Army for a number of years, where he was an Army light flyweight boxing champion.  Andy was struck down with a stomach cancer and had an emergency operation, he nearly died, but he pulled through and was invalided out of the Armed Forces. This had all taken place a few years before he came to see me, and he told me he had been given the all clear from Cancer re occurring and thought he would like to start and do some training to see if he could lift with us.

I was delighted to help him and we cautiously worked together, but in no time it was obvious he was a strong little critter, and he took to weightlifting like a duck to water.  Andy started to compete and he thrived on competition. Not only did Andy become a great champion, several times IAWA British Champion in the Open and many time World Champion in the Masters, he was a thoroughly nice man. He was a great friend to everyone, and always had a good word to say.  Andy always helped to encourage new lifters in the sport and was the kind of guy who would do anything for anyone at the drop of a hat.

Andy’s favourite lifts were the Deadlift, Hacklift, Straddle and Trap Bar Deadlift, all of which he performed with more than 3 times bodyweight!  Andy became a great friend of mine and my family too, he was like family to us. Andy was always there to help me every time we had a competition he would be helping me set up and move the weights, or collecting foreign lifters from the airport and helping me put them up. Andy was a quiet man, he wasn’t married but spent a lot of time treating and looking after others.  It was the proudest moment for me to make the presentation to my friend when he was inducted into the IAWA(UK) Hall of Fame in 2007, this was a fitting reward for a true champion and holder of many, many records who had travelled the World and taken part in as many IAWA events as he could, a true all round weightlifter and supporter.

In 2008, Andy started to have some internal pain problems in his groin, though he insisted it did not stop him lifting, it continued to niggle at him and eventually the pains spread to his chest and back. Andy lifted in the World Championships in 2008 and was magnificent, but we knew all was not right. After countless visits to the Hospital they said they were not sure why he had the pain? We all worried in case there was something deeper, and in the end sure enough, eventually a scan showed a shadow near his spine. Andy went in and had some painful surgery on his back, the cancer was in his spine, it had returned after 20 years. Whilst operating they discovered that the cancer had spread to his organs and there was nothing anyone could do. They gave him six months, and that would have taken Andy up to his 50th birthday…he didnt make it, passing away just a few weeks before. It was so sad to see this wonderful light go out, we visited him and talked to him to the end, and were with him on his last day.

I had commented one time on Andys ‘Northern Ireland’ Campaign medal he had been awarded in the Army, having seen two tours of service over there in the early and mid 70’s, when he showed it to me I told him he should be justly proud of his achievements in such dangerous and difficult times. I was very moved when, after the funeral, his girlfriend said Andy had asked her to give the medal to me. I treasure it to this day.

We all miss Andy, and his belt and lifting boots remain at the gym so he is always with us. Andy loved competition, and the postal bearing his name is a fitting tribute to him.

Notes to my younger self

by Al Myers

This is a photo of myself in a powerlifting meet when I first started competing, when I was 20 years old. If only I knew the things then that I know now!

A while back  I was discussing with Dave Glasgow  everything we have learned “the hard way” during our long lifting careers, and how we both wish we knew THEN what we know NOW.  The lifters nowadays have much more training information “at their fingertips” by the volumes upon volumes of training wisdom found on the internet (not saying it is all good info, but there is alot of good information).  Back in my early training days the only source of training information was from other lifters and the most recent edition of Muscle and Fitness that I read in the store off the rack.  Eventually I was able to  afford a subscription to Powerlifting USA so my learning curve expanded.  I want to make these “notes to myself” just in case somehow, by a modern day miracle, I am transformed back into the mind and body of my early 20’s.  


I remember when I was a young lifter I often got “sidetracked” with unproductive training programs (usually out of the latest issue of M&F!).  I kept looking for the ultimate program and truly believed there was one. I would ”jump around” from training program to training program.   Now I know there’s not a “secret training program”   – many programs can be very successful and there is not a single program  that is always better than the rest.  Looking back, I realize now that most of my strength gains came from the most basic of exercises – squats, presses, and deadlifts. 


The most important thing a young lifter can do is to stay consistent in their training.  This means lifting year round, and not taking extended breaks.  I know when I was young I would often lose focus on my training, and participate in other non strength activities for long periods of time.   I also took alot of things for granted – and just assumed that I wouldn’t lose the strength I built up while taking time off for a couple of months to play slow pitch softball during the summer. 


When you are young you are at the peak of your athleticism.  Try to maintain it for as long as  you can because it will leave you eventually!   One thing I’m very glad of was that I was introduced to the Highland Games right at the same time I started lifting weights.  The Highland Games require a great deal of athleticism as several of the events require you be quick on your feet, and be able to move with weights in your hands.  The combined training of weights and the games allowed me to keep my athleticism as I got stronger in the gym.   I have seen several lifters spend so much time with their feet set solid in the squat rack under a set of squats that the ability to move the feet quick is lost.  Also don’t take your flexibility for granted, because as you age this will soon disappear as well.  Take the time to do your stretches.


Young lifters often eat the very worse of diets during the course of a weight  training program.  Fast food seems to be the norm when you are in college.  I know now that  my progress would have been better if only I would have spent a fraction of the time paying attention to my diet as I did to my training.  Also, there are no secret supplements that will quarantee success in the gym.  I have spent money I didn’t have on supplements that I was convinced would help me (remember the liver tablets???), when I should have been buying extra meat and milk instead.  


Young lifters are the worse when it comes to listening to advice.   Find a good mentor and listen to the coaching advice as it will pay off. 


I just think of things I did when I was younger and I am just thankful none of them resulted in a major injury that would have sidelined my lifting career.  I remember feeling when I was young that I was invincible and there was no way I could get hurt doing anything!  Well, all it takes is a couple of serious injuries and you soon realize that the body is NOT invincible and any injury will set back your training!!!  But I did enjoy that fast motorcycle in college.


This is an understatement.  I have met several lifters through the years  that didn’t compete, and when asked about it, would reply that they were waiting to get stronger before hitting a competition.  I know now that more competitions makes you a better lifter as you learn from the competitions and it gives you a gauge of your progress. It also serves as a source of motivation. Plus if you are waiting to get stronger to compete – you will NEVER compete because you will never feel you are strong enough to do it. 

(FINAL NOTE:  I’m not delusional or senile yet so I know my chances of being transformed into a “younger self” will not happen, so I just hope these bits of wisdom somehow helps a new young lifter.   )

The James Lift

by Al Myers

Chad Ullom performing a James Lift with 125 pounds at the 2009 Dino Gym Challenge.

Recently, the James Lift has been receiving some attention in the USAWA.   At my Dino Gym Records Day a couple of months ago Bryan Benzel put up a big lift of 159 pounds.  It has also been discussed in the USAWA Discussion Forum.   This lift has not been contested very much in the USAWA, with the only actual meet it has been in was the 2009 Dino Gym Challenge.   It is a judges nightmare when it comes to the commands for this lift.  A total of FOUR COMMANDS must be given from the head official to properly execute this lift!  I believe this is the most commands for a single lift of all the official lifts in the USAWA Rule Book.  Lets do a review of the Rules for the James Lift:

A27.  James Lift

This lift combines a clean, press, and front squat.  First a clean is done according to the rules of the Clean. Once in the finishing position of the clean, an official will give a command to squat. Once in the bottom front squat position, as defined by the rules of the Squat, an official will give a command to press. The press is performed while maintaining a squat position of legal depth. The rules of the Press apply as defined in the rules of the Clean and Press. Once the bar is overhead, an official will give the lifter a command to lower the bar back to the chest. Once the bar is back to the chest, and at the lifter’s own discretion, the lifter will finish the squat according to the rules of the Front Squat. Once standing, the lifter will receive a command from an official to lower the bar to the platform. The lift ends when the bar is returned to the platform under control by the lifter.

It was brought up in the Discussion Forum why there are not IAWA World Records for this lift.  The reason is simple – the James Lift is NOT an official IAWA lift. It was first contested in the USAWA in the  postal series of 2001.  From my research, it appears this lift originated from the English All Round lifting promoter & weightlifter Tony Cook.  The first rules for the James Lift were written by him for a postal challenge between his gym and Clarks Gym in 1999.  Interestingly, his rules titled this lift the James Squat and Press, as well as including another lift in a slightly deviated form – the James Squat and Press behind Neck.  However, I have read stories of past weightlifters (way before this time) that performed this lift (but never in an official competition with set rules).  When I first heard of this lift, I thought it was probably a lift that Bill named after making longtime Clarks Gym member James Foster do it as an experiment in a training session.  But the person it is really named remains a mystery to me, and if anyone knows more behind this story please let me know. 

Another thing I found very interesting is that this lift was never officially adopted as an USAWA lift, but rather became “grandfathered in”  in subsequent Rule Books.  I have reread all of the Annual USAWA minutes and NO WHERE  is the James Lift mentioned as being presented for official lift status and voted on by the membership for approval. 

I will be very curious to see if Bryan can break the 200 pound barrier in the James Lift this year.  From his obvious great pressing ability and his remarkable shoulder flexibility for a big guy I predict that he will!!


Ed Schock 105 12/1/2002 USAWA Postal 160#
Bryan Benzel 125+ 2/12/2012 Dino RD 159#
Jason Weigle 110 12/15/2001 USAWA Postal 150#
Ed Schock 100 12/15/2001 USAWA Postal 150#
John Monk 75 12/1/2002 USAWA Postal 140#

The following is an addendum by Roger Davis from the USAWA Discussion Forum.  Roger futher describes how the James Lift originated.  I want to include his comments in this blog as they complete the historical review of the James Lift.

“As for origins (of the Name anyway) , it was a lift created by Tony Cook around 1999 in honour of his gym member Paul James, who used to show off his shoulder flexibility after making a clean by pressing the bar overhead and maintaining the full squat, all the others who tried it fell flat on their arses much to the mirth of Paul.  I think Paul was good for about 70kg on this, his press being the limiting factor not his flexibility.  The complete lift got a bit complicated, you had to clean the bar, front squat, hold the full squat position, press, complete the squat and then return the bar to the floor, thinking about the order was harder than teh actual lift !!!  This was competed in a BSAG comp, where I managed about 60kg.

regards,   just thought you would like to know the origin of the name.  Roger Davis”

Olympic Champion Stanley Stanczyk

by Dennis Mitchell

Stanley Stanczyk posing for a picture in the March 1947 issue of Strength and Health. The caption under his picture stated that he was "one of the most perfectly developed of present day weightlifters".

Stanley Stanczyk was born May 10, 1925 in Armstrong Wisconsin.  When he was one year old his family moved to Detroit Michigan.  Even as a child he was stronger than the other children his age.  At the age of nine he joined the Detroit Boys Club where he participated in acrobatics, tumbling, wrestling, boxing, and swimming.  Even though the club had weightlifting equipment the young boys were not allowed to use it. Stan used Charles Atlas’s course, and when no one was looking he would sneak into the weight room and do a few lifts and leave before anyone would see him.  When some of the older lifters did see him and saw how much he was lifting he was allowed to start training.

Johnny Krill, a former 126 Lb. Jr. National champion helped Stan by teaching him the three Olympic lifts, and setting up a training program for him. Right from the start he was a persistent and determined lifter. Along with the Olympic lifts he would do presses behind neck, rowing motion, push ups, reverse curls, shoulder shrugs, sit ups, and squats.  At that time he was told to do squats only once a week.  It was believed that squats would make you slow.  However, Stan said that he felt squats made him feel stronger and managed to do them at every workout. When getting ready for a contest he would concentrate on the three Olympic lifts in order to perfect his style.

In May of 1943 Stan went into the Army.  He served in the Pacific where he received the Purple Heart award.  When not fighting on the front lines he tried to stay in shape by using barbells that he and some other lifters had made out of boiler plates.  Somehow he managed to lug his weights with him as he traveled across the Pacific.  After his discharge from the army in late 1945, he took a third place in the 1946 Sr. National meet as a middle weight behind Frank Spellman, and John Terpak.  He did however set a National record in the clean and jerk with 333.5 Lbs.  In the 1946 North American meet he did take a first place, and defeated both Frank Spellman, and John Terpak.  It was at this time that Stan joined the York Barbell Club and trained for the 1946 world meet to be held in Paris France.  He lifted as a lightweight and did a 231.5 press, 253.5 snatch, and a 325.25 clean and jerk, to win by a 44.25 Lb. margin over second place lifter, Swietillo of Russa. His total of 810.25 Lbs. was a new world record.  After the 1946 world meet Stan moved up to the middle weight class. In 1947 he continued setting records with a 273.5 Snatch world record, and a 341 National record in the Clean and Jerk. In 1947 at the world meet he pushed his Snatch record to 288 Lbs. and the Clean and Jerk to 352.5 lbs.  He also tied the world Press record with 259 Lbs.  He was voted the best lifter in the world pound for pound.

Stan still had one more goal, to become an Olympic champion.  This he accomplished at the 1948 Olympics, where he set a record of 292 in the Snatch. He however refused the record stating that the lift was not good because his knee touched the platform.  He later received the Sullivan award for his good sportsmanship. It was also at this meet he was timed as the fastest moving athlete in the Olympics  Stan also trained for bodybuilding and won the Mr.Miami, All South, and the Mr Florida physique titles.

While living in Florida, Stan and his partner opened a bowling ally.  Due to the AAU rules he had to be a silent partner or he would have been called a professional athlete.  He continued his lifting.  Along with his bowling he continued to win world meets as a light heavy weight,in 1950 and in 1951. He also won the 1951 Pan American meet.  In bowling he won city, and state meets, and bowled a perfect 300 game.  For a short time in 1955 he and his partner ran a gym, but concentrated on their bowling ally,  bar and restaurant business. Stan later bought out his partner and ran the business for twenty seven years.

Stans last lifting contest was in 1957 where he lifted in the new 225 Lb. class, and took a third place using the squat style instead of his usual split style.
Stans was having some health problems and passed away July 3,1997.

John Patterson

by Al Myers

Al Myers (left) with the legendary Australian weightlifter John Patterson (right).

At the 2011 IAWA World Championships in Perth, Australia I met a very interesting and eccentric Australian weightlifter, John Patterson.  I had previously heard stories about John, so I was very intrigued to visit with him firsthand and ask him questions.  John has spent a large amount of time living in the outback, surviving off the land alone.  He is the closest person I have ever met that I would say resembles “Crocodile Dundee” from the popular movie years ago.  He has always had his weights with him, and continued to train by himself in the remote wilderness.  The second day of the meet John brought several pictures for me to look at that were taken when he was younger and in PRIME CONDITION. It was obvious to me from the pictures that he was a VERY STRONG man.  I only wish I could have gotten copies of these pictures so I could share them in this story – but just as John is, they were “one of a kinds” and the original print!

This & That

by Al Myers

I have several topics I want to talk about briefly today to give everyone updates on USAWA issues.


As most know, June 30th is the day for our National Championships in Las Vegas.  I have received a few entries, but would appreciate it if those planning on attending send me their registrations as soon as possible.  I have the tshirts and awards designed, but need to give an absolute count to the trophy shop before long so these things can be made.  Also, our host hotel is the Silverton and they still have good rates, so get your room reserved soon.


The deadline for participation for the first leg of the Goddard Postal is the end of April.  This postal meet will be the World Postal Meet for 2012.  Let it be our goal to have the USAWA well represented.


The USAWA online store has been a great success.  I have sent out many orders so far and I’m about ready to order a restock.  I am thinking of adding a line item or two, so if anyone has any ideas for a new promotional item please drop me an email.


I have just added the 2012 Club Certificates for all member clubs to the Club Roster.  These are pdf’s that you can download and print off to hang in your club’s gym.


This is a reminder that ALL sanction requests must be sent to me AT LEAST 6 weeks prior to a planned event.  This is stipulated in the USAWA rules.  From now on I will make no exceptions.


Last night I had a long phone conversation with longtime all-rounder, Joe McCoy.  Joe has had some ill-health these past couple of years, but now he is back to good health and has moved back to his farm.   He told me that he plans to get back into weight training and start promoting meets again next fall.